Stanley made a fortune in the stock market. Unfortunately, he was robbed and left stranded by Kissin' Kate Barlow. Kate stole his fortune and even his hat, which she would wear in some of the robberies she committed. He wandered in the desert with no food and water for sixteen days and eventually made his way to God's Thumb, where he found water. When he was finally found he was half crazy.
He had a son, Stanley Yelnats II, whom he named after himself because Stanley was Yelnats spelt backwards.