Harland C. Stonecipher, a life-long southeast Oklahoma resident, business giant and the founder of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (now LegalShield), passed away on Monday afternoon. He was 76 years of age.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley; oldest son, Allen, and his wife, Karen; and two grandsons, Greg and Zane. He was preceded in death by his parents as well as his youngest son, Brent, daughter-in-law Tina, and granddaughter, Nikki.
Stonecipher grew up in Centrahoma and attended Tupelo Schools before being the first in his family to attend college. He graduated from East Central State College in Ada in 1959 and became a teacher and debate coach at Chandler and Okmulgee high schools. He soon left his teaching career and became an insurance sales. In 1969, he was involved in an automobile accident while making a sales trip. Legal bills from that accident led him to create Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. in 1972
Stonecipher often commented he “would’ve given up on the company if he had known how broke he was” but, with the help of his wife, Shirley, saw his idea grow from a single-room operation to being listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company sold for more than $650 million in 2011.
Stonecipher became an icon in the legal service plan industry. He was an accomplished and sought-after speaker and accumulated a long list of honors and achievements. He was named Ernst & Young’s Southwest Master Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002. His alma mater, East Central University, recognized him as Distinguished Alumnus in 1987. He and Shirley would later bestow a gift to the university leading to the naming of the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business.
“I have lost my hero, my mentor and my best friend,” said Mike Turpen, former Attorney General of Oklahoma. “His was a life well-lived and he was a man well-loved.”
Along with his commitment to the company he founded, Stonecipher was an avid outdoorsman who served on consecutive terms of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. He and his wife, Shirley, have also been instrumental in the new Life Community Church being constructed on Stonecipher Boulevard just southwest of LegalShield’s headquarters.
Criswell’s Funeral Home in Ada is in charge of the services which are pending. More information will be available in Wednesday’s Ada News.
Get more information, facts and figures about LegalShield, click here for the LegalShield overview.