Dennis had a wonderful enthusiasm for life,” remembers Cathy Stafford, his wife of 44 years. “He treasured his family and friends.”
Cathy also remembers that Dennis (called Denny by many of his college friends) “enjoyed his years at Amherst, felt he received a good education and was pleased to be associated with the soccer team, his fraternity, the college newspaper and his many friendships.” His life-long friend John Goddard believes much of his happy memory of Amherst was a result of his and Dennis’s working friendship during their time in college. “We were not fraternity brothers nor, as far as I can remember, did we share a single class at Amherst, yet we were good friends all four years.”
At Amherst John learned that “Dennis was a relationship master – that is, he took a focused interest in the people whom he encountered. In college and throughout his life, as he accumulated new friends, he worked hard at maintaining his old ones. For example, it was his habit in later life to visit not only his former girlfriends (with his wife), but, to my dismay, mine as well.”
After Amherst Dennis worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. His time there was interrupted by 4-1/2 years as an officer in Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. He returned to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and later moved to the Bank of New York. He was a vice president at the American Stock Exchange. Later he worked in the brokerage field in Boston for Burgess & Leith and then for Advest Inc. in Hartford as vice president of Research and Corporate Finance. In retirement he split time between his summer home on Frye Island in Lake Sebago, Maine, and his permanent residence in Lutz, Fla.
Cathy says, “Dennis was more interested in being active in sports than in being a spectator. He loved tennis, swimming, jogging, mountain climbing, skiing and boating.” John Goddard adds “He enjoyed sports and kept himself in top shape. I think that at 65 he was in better condition than he was when he graduated from Amherst.”
John remembers, “Following our military service years, I noticed a definite change. There was an infusion of religious fervor into every aspect of his life that I thought that I had not seen before. Dennis, in his own way, became an evangelist and participated in missions to Vietnam, Liberia and the Dominican Republic. From that point on his faith was a strong part of his character and played a role in all of his relationships.”
His wife recounts that defining time in his life. “A senior naval officer invited Dennis to a home Bible study with other officers. Being adventurous, Dennis went one evening and found the people warm and accepting. There he met the youngest admiral in the Navy. He was taught at Amherst not to believe everything written on the printed page, so he had questions as he met with this group of military officers whom he respected. It became clear to Dennis that he wanted to put his trust in and receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and his Lord while attending a conference in Annapolis. That was the turning point in his life.”
Dennis later wrote "For years, I had my hopes of fulfillment pinned to people, places and things that I thought would bring me what I wanted most – love, peace and joy. It took a while, but I learned that people, places and things were never meant to give us life. God alone is the author of a fulfilling life. He fills our cups fully, and then people, places and things become overflow."
After seeing the movie "Remains of the Day" in 1994, Dennis wrote that it evoked many memories of his family heritage – "how blessed and privileged I've been. God has poured upon me so much and provided wisdom to see it in growing perspective: to realize that any talent, time or treasure I have is from Him; I'm merely a steward and exhorted in His Word to be a good one.... Therefore, while appreciating the past and its people, I must live in the present and share the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name…."
In addition to Cathy, Dennis is survived by his two daughters, Karen Lee Ferguson and Cynthia Eleanor Derrenbacker; a brother, Brian; and four grandchildren.
Noel Dennis Stafford Jr. died in Tampa, Fla., Oct. 8, 2006, of complications from multiple myeloma.