VIDEO TRIBUTE: Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Member Les Stafford Passes Away at Age 88
By Space Coast Daily // December 6, 2017
cocoa beach high icon passed away Friday, Nov. 24
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Above – Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Les Stafford’s tribute video.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Les Stafford passed away at the age of 88 last Friday. Les, a longtime volunteer and cog at Cocoa Beach High School, was inducted into the Hall of Fame last May during a ceremony at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, where his enthusiastic and effervescent personality was contagious.
“It is with great sorrow that I inform you that Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School’s greatest volunteer and Number 1 Fan, Les Stafford, passed away Friday, Nov. 24 at 12:38 p.m. at Cape Canaveral Hospital Hospice Care,” said Fran Siljestrom, Athletics/Activities Director at Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High School. ” Les was loved by all and will be missed by so many.”
A Celebration of Life to honor Les will be held Sunday, Dec. 10, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, located at 5000 Tom Warriner Boulevard in Cocoa Beach.
In Les’ honor, we are proud to republish his Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame tribute video, above, and story, below, which was presented during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony last May and published in the April/May 2017 edition of Space Coast Daily magazine.
‘I’VE DONE IT FOR THE KIDS’
Volunteering for anything is a commendable way for many to reach out and help with worthy causes or other people in life. The experience is rewarding, and for many of us, a way to give something back to the community or a deserving individual.
For one Brevard man, volunteering is a way of life. For over half century, Les Stafford has given his time to one school, Cocoa Beach High. Born in 1929 and now 87 years old, Stafford still continues to volunteer his time. Throughout his five-plus decades of service, he has done everything from selling programs and tickets to lining the fields.
For every home basketball and volleyball game Stafford would set up the entire gym. This includes pulling out the bleachers, setting up nets and scorer’s tables and making sure the locker rooms were ready for both teams.
Talking sports means using stats and how much time Stafford has given to the Minutemen through the years will simply astonish you. Since 1964, he has volunteered more than 111,000 hours in the athletic department, and if you break those numbers down even more, you’re left speechless to the magnitude of his commitment.
Over the span of 53 years, Stafford has averaged 2,094 volunteer hours per school year, which equates to nearly 50 hours of volunteer time per week. He has won the Brevard Public Schools Volunteer of the Year Award six times, and in 2016 the school system honored his remarkable commitment by handing out the Les Stafford Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I’ve done it for the kids and simply to help,” said Stafford. “I can’t think of a better way I could have spent my time than volunteering in sports at Cocoa Beach High.”
He is a U.S. Army veteran who served with the occupational forces in Germany during the Korean War from 1951 through 1953. In 1957, he went to work for Pan American and then moved to Brevard County in 1958 working on contracts for Boeing, BSI and Lockheed before retiring in 1994.
STILL GETS GOOSEBUMPS
Stafford has witnessed so many great sports moments at Cocoa Beach High. In fact, he has witnessed almost all of them, but the one that stands out above the rest occurred in February 2004 when the boy’s basketball team won the Class 3A State Championship.
Led by head coach Mike Gaudy, a 2012 Space Coast Sports Hall inductee, the Minutemen earned the 2004 title by defeating the then mighty Florida Prep Air Academy before beating St. Petersburg Catholic by 10 points for the Class 3A title.
“Winning that title was the best feeling in the world, I was so happy for Michael (Gaudy) and that team,” said Stafford. “The boys battled and worked hard and I still get goosebumps talking about it.”
Stafford has also fought and battled to get to this point in life.
In March 1988, he walked outside after watching practice inside of the gym and collapsed. Unconscious on the ground, he was rushed to the hospital where it was revealed he needed a quadruple bypass to live. Stafford would recover, and since then, has devoted an additional 28 years of service.
Stafford knows that support staffs are important in anything people do in life, and even a lifelong volunteer has one.
He is forever grateful to all of the kids, coaches and principals at Cocoa Beach High, especially Coach Gaudy and former Principal Pat Van, who oversaw the school for a great deal of the time Stafford has volunteered.
He would also like to thank the man that has helped him tremendously over the past eight years, Walter Blaser.
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Serving others and giving up his time is not just something Stafford did in his life, it has been his life, and by Churchill’s account, no one has made a better life for himself than Les Stafford.
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