John Lawrence Stafford Sr., a Vietnam veteran who worked in the heating and cooling industry as a plant operations manager, died Oct. 5 from cancer at a sister’s home in Sparks. He was 63.
He was born in Baltimore and raised in Towson’s Idlewylde neighborhood, the son of Patrick Stafford, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. machinist, and Jean Stafford, who worked in development at the Johns Hopkins University.
He was 17 when he left Towson High School and enlisted in the Navy. He later obtained his General Educational Development diploma.
Trained in boiler operations, Mr. Stafford served in Vietnam aboard the destroyer-cruiser USS Horne. He was discharged in 1975.
He worked in plant operations for Union Memorial Hospital, Sheppard Pratt Health System and Orlando Health in Orlando, Fla. At the time of his death he was employed by Jones Lang LaSalle, a Baltimore real estate firm.
Mr. Stafford was a fixture at his nephews’ sporting events at Hereford High School and Towson University.
He had the nickname “Uncle Buck” after a character portrayed by actor John Candy in the movie of the same name. His son, John L. Stafford Jr. of Mays Landing, N.J., said the nickname was bestowed “thanks to his dilapidated 1980s Oldsmobile, unorthodox fashion, and jovial demeanor.”
Mr. Stafford enjoyed playing guitar and banjo, and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He also liked attending parties and dancing.
“He was a friendly and sociable man,” his son said. “He was always welcome at a party, though it could be said that he didn’t know half of his friends half as well as he should like, and he liked less than half of them half as well as they deserved.”
In addition to his son, he is survived by another son, Justin Stafford of Eugene, Ore; three sisters, Katherine Patti of Sparks, Linda Shaw of Ellicott City and Cindy Bauer of Rising Sun; and two grandchildren. A marriage to the former Grace McKay ended in divorce.