A public servant can be defined in a variety of ways. The label might apply to a person holding a certain job, such as elected office or a governmental post, or it could be used for somebody without a specific title or portfolio but who constantly strives to do good for her community.
However you define it, Barbara Stafford was a true public servant. She passed away on June 16, but she lived a life of service to Virginia.
Since 2011, Barbara worked as a constituent services representative in my Christiansburg office. In that role, she helped residents of the Ninth District resolve problems and complaints they had with Federal agencies.
These agencies often operate in an arcane, inscrutable fashion, but the consequences of their work can have a significant impact in the lives of average citizens. Finding paperwork misplaced by an agency may lead to the approval of benefits a person depends on, for example.
Fixing these issues can be a drawn-out and frustrating task, but Barbara pursued these cases on behalf of Ninth District constituents with the servant’s heart that characterized her life. In fact, after she had fought and won a battle with cancer, she wanted to come back into the office when it reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was still working on June 1, when I had discussions with her at our Christiansburg office. Unfortunately, she was hospitalized shortly thereafter.
Her efforts in my office for the people of Southwest Virginia constituted only one chapter of a life spent in public service.
Barbara came from a family with a legacy of activity in Giles County public life. Her late father, Howard Morris, served as chairman of the Giles County Board of Supervisors and also served on many boards and commissions.
Her late husband, Jeff Stafford, was elected to ten terms in the Virginia House of Delegates. After his untimely death in 1990, Barbara was elected to serve the remainder of his term. Now a single mother to Christopher, Elizabeth, and Mary, she did that job and later served Pearisburg on the Town Council and as Mayor.
Pearisburg’s current Mayor, Robert Dickerson, had the following to say:
It is with high honor and privilege that I express a few words about Barbara Stafford. We were fellow classmates graduating from Giles High School. I had the privilege of serving with Barbara while she was Mayor of the Town of Pearisburg, Virginia. She was influential in my decision to run for Council and Mayor. Barbara loved the Town of Pearisburg, working tirelessly to improve it.
Even in her illness, she exemplified strength, courage, and perseverance. She was a woman of faith and integrity, which I witnessed through my interactions with her. She will be truly missed by her loved ones, friends, and neighbors, and the people she came in contact with daily. My thoughts and prayers are with the family during their time of bereavement.
Additionally, she held the role of executive director of the Giles County Chamber of Commerce. She belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution and the American League Auxiliary. Barbara taught Sunday school and led a Girl Scout Troop.
Barbara was one of a kind, but she also represented something familiar to anyone who has experienced small town life. It often depends on the women and men who take on multiple roles, work with various organizations and causes, and act continuously to bring people together for the purposes which constitute our civic life. They take up these tasks without expecting much in return beside knowing they helped create a community fit for raising one’s children and enjoying one’s life.
We could not do without them. For many in the Ninth District, and especially in the New River Valley, Barbara Stafford was just such a lady.
She adored her three children Christopher, Elizabeth, and Mary, who survive her as well as her beloved sisters Rhonda, Linda, and Heather. Barbara Stafford will be sorely missed by the community that she loved and the community that loved her.
For questions, concerns, or comments, call my Abingdon office at (276) 525-1405, my Christiansburg office at (540) 381-5671, or email at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.