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Columbia College honors Stafford with trustee emeritus status

(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- Long-time Columbia resident J.W. "Stan" Stafford has retired from the Columbia College Board of Trustees after 23 years of service. After a unanimous vote, the board named him trustee emeritus.

Stafford and his late wife, Lois, have been supporters of Columbia College since 1974. Through a substantial donation from the couple, the college constructed the J.W. and Lois Stafford Library in 1989.

In 2002, Stafford also donated one-quarter of the $2 million renovation cost of the Southwell Complex. The complex now includes more than 550 chair-back seats and seating for 1,000; two courts for basketball, volleyball or tennis; the Columbia College Athletic Hall of Fame; locker rooms, training rooms and more. It's also where commencement is held annually.

"Stan has my sincere thanks for his tremendous support of this great institution," said Dr. Gerald Brouder, president of Columbia College. "The buildings that students, faculty and staff use for recreation and academic achievement every day are the fruits of his unprecedented generosity."

The Staffords' daughter, Frances Stafford Koepke, her husband Gene Koepke and their children, Mark and Laura, also have demonstrated generous support for Columbia College, especially for Cougar athletics. They are known as ardent fans. Yet there is not one alumnus in the family.

"I just saw in Columbia College an institution with value, one worth supporting," said Stafford, now retired.

The Staffords' philanthropy is evident throughout the city of Columbia. As many as three University of Missouri basketball scholarships, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Garden off Stadium Boulevard, the Woodhaven Learning Center (housing for moderately disabled residents) and the renovation of Stephens College's Senior Hall were all made possible through Stafford donations.

"The community has been good to me, and I have tried to give something back," said Stafford.

Stafford was born in 1918, and his family owned the local Pepsi-Cola bottler for 60 years. He married Lois Smith in 1939 and received a bachelor's degree in agricultural education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1940.

He is a Mason, past-president and past-governor of the MO-KAN Federation of the Cosmopolitan Luncheon Club, and has held board positions with Woodhaven, Cosmopolitan and the University of Missouri Diabetes Center. He also is a member of the First Christian Church of Columbia.