With his whole heart, spirit and mind, Ross Stafford North, Ph.D. dedicated himself to sharing good news with Oklahoma Christian University. As a tennis coach, executive vice president, chief academic officer, professor and storyteller, good news for the people was top of mind.
On July 25, 2020, our greatest advocate, Dr. North passed away at 90 years old, leaving a legacy of faith, hope and love.
Just days before, OC President John deSteiguer announced North Crossing at a groundbreaking ceremony. The event included a walk across the center of campus to The Branch to honor JoAnne North. The room filled with joy upon revealing a new sign that read “JoAnne’s Kitchen,” a commemoration of the way she served the university with love and acceptance of all people.
During the ceremony, Dr. North told a bit of his OC story.
Dr. North was born March 12, 1930, in Abilene, Texas, to Lucas and Lola Cupples North. His parents 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.
“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.
In nearly seven decades at OC, Stafford did whatever job was needed. 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. Dr. North maintained two monthly newsletters, OC Stories and Good News, exploring the joys and achievements of the OC community. He worked as a professor and an administrator, and he was a recurring, staple act in First Week Follies. He also appeared in several Spring Sing blurbs.
And now, his spirit lives on in these photos, videos, campus dedications, family members, former students, fellow church members and everything in between. The iconic fountain in the quad of OC’s campus has now been beautified and dedicated to the Norths, and students, faculty, staff and family come together for a bite from JoAnne’s Kitchen.
Seldom do you have the joy of meeting someone so dedicated to living their life for others. Dr. North fought to bring others closer to God and to show off campus accomplishments. He had a passion for connecting students with alumni and representing the university well.
Dr. Stafford North graciously embodies 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.