Ross Stafford North, Ph.D. generously invested his heart, soul, time and treasure into Oklahoma Christian University. On July 25, 2020, our greatest advocate passed from this life to the next. He was 90 years old. The loss is tremendous, but we know he will welcome us into heaven with the same devotion he exhibited each day of his life. The family requests donations to Oklahoma Christian University for the Stafford North Memorial Fund for Faculty/Staff Development.
Stafford was always a “faculty guy." He was the chief academic officer before Dr. Bailey McBride. Several years before that, Stafford was executive vice president of the university. He never left the classroom. It is rumored that he used his time in ICU to grade papers for his Personal Evangelism class!
It is a great honor for Stafford’s legacy to have memorial funds dedicated to faculty development. These memorial funds will be always be available to the faculty for use as approved by the chief academic officer of the university.
His last visit to campus took place only days before his passing. OC President John deSteiguer announced North Crossing at a groundbreaking ceremony where Stafford told a bit of his OC story. North Crossing will be a complete remodel of the fountain located in the center of the quad. It is sure to become a campus highlight.
"No person in OC's history has had the length, depth and breadth of impact of Dr. Stafford North. The 'Six-Shot Repeater Method,' the 'Bob-tailed Bull,' 'Submarine' - just mention any of these phrases, and thousands of OC alumni will immediately smile and say 'Dr. North!' Stafford was Mr. OC," said deSteiguer.
The groundbreaking event included a walk across the center of campus to The Branch for a special way to honor JoAnne North. The room filled with joyful reactions upon the revelation of a new sign that read JoAnne's Kitchen, a commemoration of the way she served the university with love and acceptance of all people.
Stafford was born March 12, 1930, in Abilene, Texas, to Lucas and Lola Cupples North, who said he loved his Bible so much he wanted to sleep holding onto it. That love compelled him to teach and preach God's word for more than seven decades. World renowned for his series on Revelation, he also authored nine books using his talent for distilling complex ideas into simple, profound truth.
In 1955, Stafford married JoAnne Eades Boswell, of Lakeland, Florida, and found his life-long best friend, mission partner, Boggle-playing buddy and world-traveling sidekick with whom he would build a home, a family, a congregation and a university. Every day of their 65 years together, Stafford and JoAnne dedicated themselves to serving others, especially their four children. As the children married, ten grandchildren, their spouses and 17 great grands arrived, Papa Staff and Mama Jo welcomed them into the family with beach trips, family devotionals and blessings.
In nearly seven decades at OC, Stafford did whatever job was needed. Tennis coach to Bible professor, Academic Dean to Executive Vice President, he gave his all and was honored for his innovative methods in 1997 with an induction into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. He was a leader, an educator, an entertainer and spiritual advisor. He worked as a professor and an administrator, and he was a recurring, staple act in First Week Follies. In addition, many students requested he appear in their Spring Sing blurbs.
"I think how we work together, the work we do in teaching here, and all the things that make that possible, are really worthwhile and have influenced millions around the world when you think of how these students have impacted so many others and carried on this legacy," said Stafford proudly representing Oklahoma Christian in a 2004 article.
Seldom do you come across someone so dedicated to living their life for others. Stafford fully dedicated his life to bringing others closer to God and to showing off OC campus accomplishments. He had a passion for connecting students with alumni and representing the university in many ways.
Stafford's blog OC Stories, covered everything from spiritual life to guest speakers and athletics. Stafford sought to tell our students’ stories, representing each of our university objectives.
Stafford graciously embodied the four cornerstones of our university. He was missional, teaching Bible classes and encouraging students to pursue service. He was innovative, creating new outlets to tell our campus stories, looking for ways to get the word out about student success. He was challenging, fighting for our campus and encouraging others to dedicate themselves to their faith. And, he was personal. He made everyone he talked to feel important. He told individual stories. He built valuable relationships. OC is a better place because of Dr. Stafford North.
Pray for the North family and the university as new leaders rise up to fill the giant hole left by our friend. Send donations to the Stafford North Memorial Fund for Faculty/Staff Development.