M. Douglas Stafford died peacefully on Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 12:45 p.m. at age 81 after a lengthy and arduous battle beginning with renal cancer 14 years ago. Born on September 29, 1933 in Syracuse, New York to George Stafford, of New York State, and Jeanette Martin Stafford, of New York State, he leaves a family of relations and friends that spread worldwide, with an influence to match.
After graduating from Cornell’s School for Industrial and Labor Relations, Doug’s remarkable career began with three years in the Navy aboard the USS Cacapon where he met lifelong friends. He began his civilian career at IBM where he stayed for three years before joining the Peace Corps and acting as Country Deputy Director in Liberia and Ghana. After he and his family returned from these two years in Africa he was Director of Administration of Peace Corps in Washington DC. Following this he spent a year with a principal role in Family Health Care, Inc. and then two years as Vice President for Administration at State University of New York at New Paltz College. Doug returned to Washington to work as comptroller at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After his time at EEOC he went to work at the United Nations Development Program as Director of Finance and Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Finance and Administration. Later he was appointed Deputy High Commissioner for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, located in Geneva.
Doug returned to Washington to complete his career of public service at the State Department as a Clinton appointee, where he was Assistant Administrator for Food and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Doug met and at times served with dignitaries such as Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, the Queen of Spain and many others.
But it was working with his revered staff and colleagues, sleeves rolled up and in the trenches that fueled his fire. He wasn’t living if he didn’t have an issue to tackle. He brought his intense passion for people, his direct and colorful way of speaking and fearless enthusiasm for championing his staff and what is right to every job, and every situation in his life. His charismatic presence, marked by a deep conviction in bringing a better life to all people, drew in friends from every job and every place he lived, creating a kaleidoscope of devoted, fascinating and loving friends. His pride and abiding love for his family was always crowned by the respect and love he accorded his wife. His sometimes larger than life presence will be remembered and celebrated by many with unbounded respect and the same quick smile he brought to all relationships. It is not the vacuum he leaves, but rather the rich fabric of life that marks his passing.