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John Michael "Mike" Stafford

November 17, 1954 December 12, 2018
John Michael "Mike" Stafford
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Obituary for John Michael "Mike" Stafford

John “Mike” Stafford, a resident of Aumsville, Oregon and native Californian, passed away peacefully at his home on December 12, 2018 at the age of 64.

He was born in Lancaster, California on November 17, 1954, and lived in Saugus-Newhall attending Wm. S. Hart High School Class of 1972. He was the eldest of five children born to the late Rosemary A. Haas [1929-2003] and his father John Robert “Bob” Stafford [1923-1988] a decorated Sergeant in the U.S.M.C. serving in WWII and Korea, and also as a sergeant with the LA County Sheriff Department.

Like his dad, Mike also served in law enforcement, first, as a deputy sheriff with Santa Cruz County and then with the Martinez PD from ’76-’85. He received his B.A. in 1980 Criminal Justice Management, cum laude, through Cal State Sacramento and his M.P.A. in 1984 Organizational Change, magna cum laude, from Cal State Hayward where he went on to write publications, and teach as well as lead trainings in conflict resolution and negotiations, a true passion of his.

Mike worked as a program coordinator for the California Community Dispute Services from 1990-1995 (which incidentally was where he met his wife); he was faculty coordinator/Instructor for the UC Berkeley Extension International Diploma Program from 1991-2001. He formed his own business JMS Associates establishing himself as a guest speaker and consultant. And he traveled doing negotiation’s training for the International Chiefs of Police. In 2002, he moved his family to Oregon and became leadership training coordinator for DPSST, the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards & Training 2002-2003; thereafter, as public safety coordinator with the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission where he was instrumental in his role effecting change through the Methamphetamine Task Force (something he was quite proud of) until retiring early in 2009. Also during this time, he worked as coordinator/Instructor for the Willamette University Atkinson Graduate School of Management teaching negotiating and conflict skills—something he really enjoyed doing—interacting with his students. He would use Tinker Toys® as training tools and was quite often seen with a bin of Lincoln Logs® under his arm en route to class.

In short, it would be best to describe Mike as a peacemaker. His charisma not only brought people together but elevated them to a better degree for having done so. He had a great sense of humor and will be remembered for his inquisitive and gregarious nature, hearty laugh, beautiful eyes, and his kind heart. He was a man of integrity, and to a greater degree, a true “honest John” as well—definitely one who believed in and followed the good logic of the golden rule—treating people like he wanted to be treated.

Raised Catholic, Mike did return to his faith after shedding his agnostic S.J. Gould mentality (concluding as Gould did: “we’re not always as smart as we think”), and Mike spent his final years walking on Saturday evenings to his church at St. Mary’s in Shaw to listen to Fr. Dick or to Fr. Paul (both his favorites), and observing his Hebrew roots through Monte Judah via on Shabbos. Interesting too that he even cracked open and enjoyed reading (an older version of) the Jerusalem Bible (something he had pulled off the book shelf at a thrift store) and, granted, he was far more intrigued with the historical footnotes and with the commentaries therein, but you could definitely notice the effect it had on him—great peace.

Mike’s hobbies included home-and-yard projects; felling trees; anything wood; fiddling in his workshop; building models with his boys; browsing through antique shops and visiting military museums; he enjoyed fine dining; taking road trips (preferring the back roads) with his family as well as fishing and target shooting; he loved the mountains and dog walks out to rivers and lakes as well as occasional coastal visits too. He often listened to classic rock, and his music collection (e.g. record albums) and repertoire ranged from classical to the Blues inclusive of all genres (except perhaps disco, country music and acid rock). Mike was also a collector of rare books, coins, stamps, antiques—especially old toys and military memorabilia. He had an interest in geology and archeology—secrets of the earth. And few things excited him more than exploring a good rock shop (like the one he used to frequent in Vacaville, Ca) except maybe going out and about and happily stumbling upon some petrified wood or an interesting geode. He found pleasure in the simple things of life—he stopped to smell the roses.

Mike was a true fan of Turner Classic Movies, and his favorite pastime was spent during stormy and rainy days enjoying them. Mike was also an avid reader (history in particular, anything military). He held many subscriptions to various magazines (e.g. Air and Space; Smithsonian, ThunderBear, etc.) and kept up on world affairs through various newspapers and media… True, he should have grabbed a spot as a contestant on the game show, Jeopardy because Mike had a knack for coming up with the correct answer consistently to any category question asked (at least while at his mother-in-law’s house he did), and never missed a one! He was a sort of walking encyclopedia and philanthropist rolled together. A very generous man as well, you could always rely on Mike to cover the bill while dining out. But he had a few vices and one worth mentioning—his dislike for cell phones. Digital agenda planner with stylus, okay; he used that. Nostalgic telephone with ring dialer one number at a time, he had that too for backup (in case of power outages). But really, Mike was just a simple man with simple pleasures. He was a loving husband and loyal friend. Being a father was the ultimate highlight for him—he was always so proud of his sons and their accomplishments—always so supportive of them! He loved his bragging rights.

To his grandchild(ren) yet unborn, whom he will never come to know or experience, undoubtedly he would have advised them to follow their passion or their bliss in life. And how thrilled he would have been to watch them do that! Undoubtedly spending lots of quality time with them, as any good grandpa would do. He will be greatly missed but not forgotten.

Beloved Mike is preceded in death by his parents Bob and Rosemary; his precious Aunt Marge (Mary Margaret Stafford 1919-2008); his decorated veteran, Uncle Fran (Frank/ Francis Victor Stafford 1917-1980); but most recently, by U.S. Air Force veteran Norbert P. Haas (1930-2015) from Lincoln, Nebraska, R.I.P.

JMS is survived by his devoted wife of 25 years, Leslie Smith (who took care of him all during his illness often taking him outside on a rolling gurney, or loading him up in the car to venture out on other gurney journeys). He is survived by his two sons, Sergeant Elliot Stafford [Carly], U.S.M.C. /Army (26) and John Seamus “Shay” Stafford, RN (24); his loving and caring sister, Kathleen Penrice and nephew Jonathan Penrice both of Stayton, OR; his other three siblings: Pat [Mary Kraut], Bob [Karen], and Peg Stafford, from CA; and his Aunts [Ruth and Theresa] and those crazy cousins from his mother’s side in Nebraska (Go Cornhuskers!) as well as relatives spread all over the Midwest.

He leaves behind his faithful canine friend, Woodrow, several devoted cats (especially Eddie and Bobo), and one last remaining chicken (who lays green eggs…true enough, but not with ham; uh, ugh).

He loved life; he patriotically loved his country (often choking up on the song of our National Anthem), and he loved his fellow man. Shalom to you all in Yahshua! (Isa. 57:1-2)

There will be both a burial and spreading of Mike’s ashes according to his wishes along the Yuba River and/or SR 49 aka, the Gold Country in California (he was also quite fond of Metolius River in southern Oregon, a favorite fishing spot). And his sons will be carrying that out at some time in the future. And if we can ever locate where his Uncle Fran was buried (somewhere in Los Angeles), and if it’s feasible, Mike will be laid to rest with him; otherwise he will stay in Oregon.

In lieu of flowers, gifts, or tokens, please consider the following random act of kindness: Pass it on—buy a grand coffee and surprise the human bean in the car behind you next time you go for a drive-through Joe; and add the laugh and smile and perhaps the raising of that delicious beverage to say, “Cheers to you Mike” as that would be a fitting tribute (and he would have considered that a source of great joy!). If nah, then why not visit the local Humane Society or Dog Shelter, and pick out a pal to take home, or donate your time there. Fences for Fido is a good organization to support (; he would appreciate it if you did, and an honor if you would remember our veterans (

Auld Lang Syne my friends, 2018

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