Deceased March 5, 2007
My uncle, Charles Churchill Stafford, known as Church, died at RiverWoods in Exeter, NH, on March 5, 2007, following an extended illness. He was born in Morrisville, VT, on July 26, 1915, the only child of Grace and Roy Stafford. His father was a member of the Vermont State Senate. Following the path of another Vermonter, Calvin Coolidge, forty-two years earlier, my uncle entered Amherst College in the fall of 1933. At Amherst, Church was elected president of the Class of 1937. One of his classmates and fraternity brothers was my father, Robert Massey. Church married my father’s sister, Phyllis, in the summer of 1943, following her graduation from Smith. She died in July 1990, and eight years later my uncle married Mary Chamberlin, who survives him. Other survivors include a daughter, Susan; two sons, Rob and Chris; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Church served in the US Army Air Corps in World War II. Afterward he and his family spent most of their years in Keene, and later Danville, NH. Following the war, he was a representative of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) and then switched to the world of small business when he acquired Spencer Hardware Company in Keene. Another career change took place in the 1960s, when he earned a masters degree in counseling from Boston Univ. and, subsequently, was appointed dean of students at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, MA. His wide range of experience and his gift for encouraging others earned him the respect of his students and his colleagues. The college honored his work by establishing the Church Stafford Scholarship. After his retirement, my uncle served as a volunteer family mediator and child advocate in the New Hampshire juvenile court system.
To me, Uncle Church was a wise counselor and a friend with a delightful sense of humor. Yet my most vivid memory of him comes from a very sorrowful occasion in March 1987, the memorial service for his recently deceased son, Charles (“Chip”). As he rose to address the gathering, Church took out a note card, studied it, and then remarked, “It says here, ‘take a deep breath.’” The wave of chuckles that followed was a tribute to my uncle’s greatest gift, the ability to put other people at ease—even at a time of great personal anguish.
This member of Amherst’s Class of 1963 salutes the great Class of 1937, whose members included, along with my father and uncle, one of my favorite Amherst professors, Edwin C. Rozwenc (History and American Studies). Will we ever see their likes again?
Robert K. Massey Jr. ’63