Herbert (Herb) Stafford, Jr.

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Herbert (HerbStafford, Jr., 92, was born in Ranger, Texas on February 4, 1926 and moved to Groves, Texas in 1935. He entered into eternal rest on March 26, 2018.

Herb spent his youth hunting, fishing, and working as a soda jerk at his parent’s pharmacy, the original Stafford’s Pharmacy which became Groves Pharmacy. He went to Thomas Jefferson (TJ) High School in Port Arthur rather than Port Neches-Groves (PNG), where he was zoned, to play an extra year of football since TJ was a 12 year school and PNG was an 11 year school.

Herb enlisted in the Navy at age 17, and following high school graduation in May 1944 boarded a train to San Diego for basic training the next day. He served as a 20 mm machine gunner on the USS Corson, a seaplane tender.  He saw lots of action in South Pacific, and entered Nagasaki two weeks after it was bombed, where he spent several weeks. Herbwas honorably discharged from the Navy in 1946.

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Following WWII, he went to college at Texas A&M for one year, Lamar for one year, and graduated from the University of Texas in 1950 with a BBA. Herb went to work for Jones and Laughlin Steel in1951 and spent approximately 20 years there until the early 1970s.

Herb married Mary Elizabeth (Mary Beth) Daley on December 13, 1952. He became father to Herbert James Stafford, III in 1955 and Marian Kay Stafford in 1958.

Herb and Mary Beth opened Stafford’s Nursery in 1959, and operated the nursery for almost 40 years before retiring in 1996. Their specialty was roses, and they both became Certified Rosarians. For about 15 years, they also operated a commercial greenhouse tomato operation, supplying local grocery stores with tomatoes year round. They also operated an antiques store for about 20 years at their nursery site out of a log cabin that Herb built by hand. During the 1980s Herb was a radio celebrity on a Saturday morning radio nursey call in show.

Herb was involved in the Boy Scouting program as a volunteer for many years, and received the Silver Beaver in 1969, Scouting’s highest award for volunteer service. He also received the Cross and Flame Award from the Methodist Church for his many decades of service to the Boy Scouts. Herb had been an active member of the Groves United Methodist Church since 1935, and was the longest tenured member with over 80 years membership.

Herb was active in the Groves Masonic Lodge for over 60 years and received the Golden Trowel award. He received the 32nd degree Masonic honor, and was treasurer of the Groves Lodge for about four years.

Dad was active for decades in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Port Neches Post 4820. He served on the honorary 21 gun salute team for many years, and was the local VFW Commander for 13 years. He was recently honored for being instrumental in the establishment of Veteran’s Park in Port Arthur.

Herb was an expert wood carver, and many of his carvings that are in homes throughout Southeast Texas. Santa’s, birds and fish were his favorite carving subjects. He was also an expert at catching redfish, and fished well into his 70s in the canals and marshes across from Port Neches Park. He was active for many years in the local chapter of the Audubon Society, and he and Mary Beth enjoyed bird watching, especially at Sabine Woods.

To recognize his life-long spirit of patriotism and volunteerism, Herb was named Port Arthur Sertoma Club’s Citizen of the year in 2010, and was named “Outstanding Senior Citizen” by the Port Neches Rotary. He often gave speeches at local schools and veteran recognition events about patriotism and citizenship.

Herb was preceded in death by his parents, Herbert and Genelle Stafford, a sister Genelita Stafford, and a grandson Robert Stafford.

He is survived by his wife Mary Beth Stafford, a son Herbert James (Jim) Stafford, III (Patty) of Beech Island, South Carolina and a daughter Marian Ruiz (Mike) of Port Neches, Texas. Survivors also include four grandsons William Stafford (Megan) of North Augusta, South Carolina, Matt LeBlanc (Callie) of Spring, Texas, Vincent Ruiz of Tucson, Arizona, Dominic Ruiz of Tucson, Arizona, and a granddaughter Darionne Williams (Spencer) of Marana, Arizona. Great-grandchildren include Paxton, Connor and Natalie Stafford of North Augusta, South Carolina, Ashton and Everett LeBlanc of Spring, Texas and James Williams of Marana, Arizona.

A visitation for family and friends will be Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at Levingston Funeral Home in Groves from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, March 29, 2018 at First United Methodist Church in Groves with Reverend Marty Boddie officiating. Military graveside services will follow at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches.

Pallbearers are Mike Parker, Jeff Greenway, Mike Doyle, Darrell Motte, Tommy Lock, Clay Whisenant. Honorary Pallbearers will be Jim White, Otis Barnes, Cecil Vincent, Larry Neff, Ed Hebert, Reverend George Hearne, VFW Post 4820, Groves Masonic Lodge, and the Coffee Crew at Bruce’s Market Basket.

Thanks for the special care given at Oak Grove Nursing Home and to Heart of Texas Hospice.

Any memorials may be made to, First United Methodist Church of Groves.