By Brittany Horn / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
John H. Stafford didn’t just get a degree from the University of Notre Dame — he ensured that many Pittsburgh residents could do the same.
With a passion and determination recognized by many who knew him, the Fox Chapel resident joined forces with fellow alumnus and the Notre Dame Club of Pittsburgh to raise scholarship money to help fund future students at Notre Dame.
Mr. Stafford died from complications of a brain aneurysm Saturday in North Carolina. He was 67.
Growing up in Mt. Lebanon, Mr. Stafford attended South Catholic High School before moving on to Notre Dame.
In his college days, Mr. Stafford could almost always be found lying on his dorm room bed reading Time magazine, a photo of his soon-to-be wife propped nearby on his desk.
Even though his fourth-grade crush Judy Conley was set to join a convent and become a nun — a thought that friend and classmate Dick Crouch said “crushed” Mr. Stafford — he was convinced she would come back to him.
He was right, as proven by their 43 years of marriage and four children.
“I think he and Judy were more in love than anyone I’ve ever known,” Mr. Crouch said.
The couple settled in Fox Chapel a year after Mr. Stafford received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Notre Dame in 1968.
Mr. Stafford’s son Joseph said his father saw where the future of technology was headed and wanted to be a part of it. He gained his master’s degree in computer systems at the University of Pittsburgh, jumpstarting a career he only “half-retired” from last year.
Known in the computer consulting and technology business for his level head and calm nature, Mr. Stafford was considered a trusted leader by colleagues and clients at Aptech Computer Systems Inc. in O’Hara, Golf Digest Information Systems and Schneider Downs, Downtown, throughout his career. Most recently, he served as president of his private consulting firm, Ruby R. Consulting Inc.
“There was never a question with John,” said Raymond Buehler, president and CEO of Schneider Downs. “You didn’t have to look over your shoulder because you knew John was going to do what was right.”
Mr. Stafford never lost his love for Notre Dame football either, embodying the Irish spirit “down to his toes,” Mr. Buehler said.
At least once a year, Mr. Stafford returned to South Bend, Ind., to relive his days at Notre Dame and share his love for the Fighting Irish with his family.
His daughter, Margaret, and his son John Jr. went on to earn degrees from Notre Dame. Mr. Stafford and his wife most recently attended the BCS National Championship Game to see the Fighting Irish take on Alabama.
“He celebrated the little things in life,” Joe Stafford said. “[He said,] ‘If Notre Dame is in the national championship, we’ve got to go, no matter how much it’s going to cost.’ ”
Today, Mr. Stafford’s work is remembered through the local academic scholarship to Notre Dame that bears his name. He also received the Distinguished Service Award for his work with the university in 1986.
In addition to his wife and son Joseph, of Fox Chapel, Mr. Stafford is survived by his sons, John Jr., of Raleigh, N.C., and Michael, of Fox Chapel; daughter, Margaret Delfausse, of Atlanta; his brother, Regis, of Mt. Lebanon; and seven grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc., 4900 Centre Ave. at Devonshire Street.
Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Scholastica Church, 309 Brilliant Ave., Aspinwall.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Notre Dame Club of Pittsburgh Scholarship Fund in care of Susan Hagan, 153 Main Entrance Drive, Pittsburgh; or to the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, 6202 Alder St., Pittsburgh.