George Stakley, Jr.

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Fort Walton Beach, FL | The Destin Log

George Stakley, Jr was born to the late Hattie May Jones and George Stakley Sr., on February 18, 1936, in Crestview, Florida. He was preceded in death by his four siblings: Willie James Crenshaw, Rose Marie Paris, Evelyn Jones, Charlean Jones, and his precious daughter Cassandra Stakley. In 1964, he united in holy matrimony to Donna Kay Pate Stakley who went to be with the Lord in 2008.

Growing up SFC Stakley was the middle child with three sisters and one brother. He was raised in the church and was baptized at Macedonia Baptist Church in Crestview, FL. He later switched denominations and became an very active member African Methodist Episcopal Church because of his wife.

While SFC Stakley was born in Crestview, FL, he went to elementary and middle school in Chicago and graduated from high school at Washington High in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon graduation, SFC Stakley enrolled at Morris Brown College but felt moved to join the military in 1954. It was not long into his military service that SFC Stakley started to travel the world, visiting places he never dreamed were possible. In 1958, he did two tours in Germany, in 1962 he spent 16 months in Korea and from 1968 to 1971, he completed two tours in Vietnam. He also had the opportunity to travel to Japan, Italy, England, and France. One of his fondest memories was visiting Jericho, he described it as "one of the most beautiful places in the world."

When SFC Stakley joined the military, he did it to change his life, to challenge himself and to accomplish something. He has said on several occasions that without the military, he never would have found his gift as a public speaker and community leader. While in Vietnam, SFC Stakley was a Sergeant First Class which meant that he was the platoon leader. This was not an easy feat for an African American man in the late 1960s. SFC Stakley was the leader of 20 soldiers, two Black and the rest were White from the South. However, he led by example and treated everyone in his platoon the same with care and fairness. He was such a good leader that several soldiers put in requests to be transferred to his platoon. (Additionally, he embodied a vital characteristic for a leader and a soldier, emotional stability. Keeping one's composure during battle can be the difference of life or death.)

After serving in the Army for 20 years, SFC Stakley retired and was immediately given a job as the Army JROTC instructor for Crestview High School, where his talents for public speaking and leadership flourished. After 24 years of teaching at Crestview High School he retired but kept himself busy with family and community engagement. Not only was he a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, also he received three bronze medals, and a Superior Award for fighting in Vietnam. He was a member of the local Carver Hill Historical Society, who specialized in preserving the history of Crestview. He was an officer in the AMEC Lay Organization and he was on the Steward Board. He was chairman of the Housing Board in Crestview and on the School Advisory Council. He also held the seat as 2nd Vice President of the Okaloosa branch of the NAACP. He was a charter member American Legion Post 395 Crestview, FL. He joined the Crestview Kiwanis while becoming an active member then he later became the first African American President. He was well known throughout Crestview as a hard-working and strongly opinionated man.

SFC Stakley was also known as a family man and a devout Christian. Of all his accomplishments, SFC Stakley would tell anyone without hesitation that his family tops them all. With his wife of 44 years, Donna Kay Pate Stakley, he raised six children Angel, Yvette, George III, Dion, Katrinia and Roderick. Donna and SFC Stakley provided a tremendous example of a loving partnership to their children and grandchildren through mutual respect and love. SFC Stakley encouraged all his children to strive for the best and make the world a little bit better. Whether it was a graduation, marriage, or promotion, he was always there to celebrate their accomplishments. SFC Stakley continued this encouragement with his grandchildren as well. While he was able, they could look forward to looking out into the audience and seeing his beaming face. SFC Stakley would brag to anyone who listened about what the Stakley clan was accomplishing. He also taught each of them that the way you present yourself plays a big part in how you are perceived by others. While SFC Stakley was a sharp guy who took pride in how he looked, he also placed great importance on carrying oneself with respect and dignity.

George Stakley Jr. left us to be with the Lord on May 12, 2023.

George is survived by six children: Angel (Chris) Neal of Orlando, FL; Yvette (Allen) Kelly of Lynn Haven, FL; George (Alecia) Stakley III of Crestview, FL; Dion (Robyn) Stakley of Crestview, FL; Katrinia (William) Hamilton of Hattiesburg, MS; Roderick (Caree) Stakley of Fayetteville, AR, grandchildren: Darrell (Shameka) Harris; Angel (Hiwot) Harris-Sidelil; George Stakley IV; Bria Kelly; Xavier Holmes; Alayna Kelly; Lauren Stakley; Sean Kimbrough; Brooke Stakley; Kendall Stakley; four great-grandsons, Uncle Clyde Hayes of Crestview, FL and a host of extended family and friends.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Visitation Friday, May 19, 2023, from 6-8 pm at:

Mt. Zion AME Church

502 McDonald Street

Crestview, FL

Homegoing Celebration Saturday, May 20, 2023, 1 pm at:

Crestview Community Center

1446 Commerce Drive

Crestview, FL

Final arrangements entrusted to: McKinnie Funeral Home

398 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave

Crestview, FL

Posted online on May 18, 2023

Published in Northwest Florida Daily News