John Elbert Stafford, 87, of Canton died Thursday night, December 29, 2022 at the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Emergency Room after being stricken ill at home. He had been in the company of his family but had sent them home to rest.
A decorated Army Retiree, he served his country for 21 years, from April 8, 1953 until December 31, 1974.
Born in Ogdensburg, September 30, 1935, a son of the late Claude Alving and Dorothy Etta (Austin) Stafford, John grew up in Hermon and attended Hermon High School. While in school he earned two sports letters as manager of the 1950-1951 Basketball and Baseball teams. He was also a member of the Hermon Boy Scout Troop.
On April 8, 1953, John joined the US Army Reserves in Canton, NY and became a member of Company “B”, 314th Military Police Battalion. He entered active duty on May 7, 1954 and went to Fort Dix, NJ for basic training. After attending Military Police School in Fort Gordon, GA, john went to Tokyo, Japan for three years. When he returned in 1957 he was again station at Fort Dix. On July 4, 1958, John married the Love of his Life. Geraldine M. Ames of Crary Mills while he was on temporary duty from Camp Drum, NY. Geraldine predeceased him on May 27, 2021.
John spent a tour of duty in Korea from June 1960to July 1961. Following that he reenlisted for three more years a Fort Drum where he was the Scout Master of Troop #26. At this point in his career he changed duties from Military Police to Personnel and Administration. From there he and family went to Germany for three years. A son, Thomas John was born there in 1965. In 1966 John and family relocated to Fort Eustis, VA for a couple years. In 1967, John went to Vietnam for the first of two tours there. John was assigned to HHC, Saigon Support Command as the Administrative Supervisor to the Commanding General. He was awarded a Bronze Star, Air Medal and Aircraft Crew Wings. When he returned the family was relocated to San Pedro, CA for a couple years where in 1969 he was promoted to Sergeant First Class. In 1970, John was again ordered to Vietnam, where he was assigned to the 118th Engineer Brigade and in September 1970 to the First 502 Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division in Hue-Phu Bai. For this assignment he was awarded a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, an Army Commendation Medal and several lesser medals.
When John returned from the second tour in Viet Nam, he was assigned to the US Army Recruiting Command with duty in Potsdam, NY. In 1973, he was assigned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington DC., from which he retired December 31, 1974 and was again awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
January 2, 1975, John began working for the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services where he was a food stamp examiner. In 1983 he became a welfare fraud investigator and was one of only two Nationally Certified Welfare Fraud Investigators in the county. He ended his career as a staff development trainer on December 27, 1979. From there he attended Canton ATC under the GI Bill and received an AAS in Retail Business Management in December of 1979. John also attended SUNY Potsdam for four more years in the evening. John was active in the Boy Scouts and received the District Award of Merit in 1979 and was awarded the Silver Beaver in 1985. John was also a member of The Order of the Arrow and had an extensive collection of BSA memorabilia which he enjoyed displaying at local scouting events. John was also an active member of the VFW Post 1231, as quartermaster and member of the Post Honor Guard. He was also active with Chapter #164, Disabled American Veterans of Potsdam, serving as Chapter Membership Chairman and Treasurer. John was also a past member of the Canton Fire Department.
John is survived by his children, Thomas (Anna) Stafford, Ruth Ann (Robert) Sessions and Sheila Stafford Cornwell; grandchildren, Racheal Hurlbut, Ralph (Courtney) Monroe, TJ (Samantha) Stafford and Cassandra Stafford; great-grandchildren Brian, Gracie, Luke, Drew, Harlan, Nolan, Norah and Chloe. Also surviving is a sister Patricia, and last but not least, Luke his dog.
In addition to his beloved wife, Geraldine and his parents Claude and Dorothy, he is predeceased by a son-in-law, Michael Cornwell and siblings, Norman, Joan, June, Betty and Carol Ann.
Calling hours for John will be held on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at the O’Leary Funeral Home, Canton.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Canton Rescue Squad, 77 Riverside Drive; Canton, New York 13617. Memories and condolences may be expressed online at www.olearyfuneralservice.com. Arrangements for John E. Stafford are under the care of the O’Leary Funeral Service of Canton.