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Calvyn Stafford and family.

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Stafford, Calvin Ronald (1917–2005) and Beryl Jean (Trood) (1922–2005)

By Gordon Stafford

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Gordon Stafford lived in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands for 36 years and worked as a minister pilot, district director, area supervisor, president, and college principal. On returning to Australia, Stafford established and was principal of the Mamarapha College for Aboriginal students in Western Australia for 17 years. He is married to Ruth and they are retired in Perth, Western Australia.

First Published: January 29, 2020

Calvin and Beryl Stafford were pioneering missionaries in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Together they opened many areas to the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They spent twenty-eight of their thirty-three years of service as missionaries.1

Early Life and Education

Calvin Ronald Stafford was born in Madras, India, on January 15, 1917.2 His parents were Charles James and Mina (Behrens) Stafford.3 At the time, Charles Stafford was a literature evangelist in Madras. Because of ill health, Mina Stafford returned to Australia in 1917, and her husband returned in 1918.4 At first, Charles Stafford made whole grain bread for the Sanitarium Health Food Company Café.5 He then served in evangelistic work in Victoria for a number of years until, due to poor health, he took up farming.6 Calvin Stafford had an older brother, Leo (born 1910), a sister, Norma (born 1919), and a younger brother, John (born 1923).7

Calvin Stafford spent his childhood in Castlemaine and Bairnsdale. The family moved to a farm in the Nicholson area of Victoria when he was nine years old, settling on uncultivated land which they cleared for their home. He walked four kilometers to school each day, eventually completing the eighth grade, in spite of having to help plant and harvest peas, beans, and maize on the farm.8 It was on that farm that Stafford developed a love of reading and nature. The stories his parents read to the children in the evening by kerosene lamplight helped him to catch a vision for mission work.9

Around 1937, the family moved to a property at Cooranbong (Avondale), where Stafford and his father built a small home. He enrolled in the ministerial course at Australasian Missionary College in 1938. He earned his fees working part time between 1937 and 1945 in the engineering department of the Sanitarium Health Food Company factory at Cooranbong. There he gained valuable machinery skills.10 After graduating at the end of 1944, Staffrod worked as a literature evangelist in the Musswellbrook area, North New South Wales, between March and December, 1945.11 He married Beryl Trood on December 19, 1945.12

Beryl Jean Trood was born on June 3, 1922, to Joseph and Iris Trood in Enfield, New South Wales.13 Joseph Trood had a leadlight business in Sydney, making stained glass windows for churches and cathedrals. When the business closed during the Great Depression, the family moved to a bark hut near Bargo, south of Sydney. Beryl Trood completed grade 7, and when the family moved to Cooranbong, she worked in the Sanitarium Health Food Factory and studied the home economics course for a year at Australasian Missionary College, where she met Stafford.14

Ministry

After Calvin and Beryl Stafford married, they pursued in evangelistic work in New South Wales at Taree in 1946 and Grafton in 1947.15 Their daughter, Ruth Robyn, was born.16 In 1948, they were invited to work in New Guinea, and sailed from Sydney on April 24.17

During that first year in New Guinea they opened a new mission station at Kumul, Chimbu Province, in the highlands of the country.18 The first house was made of bamboo, with a thatched roof and a dirt floor. Their son Gordon Edward was born in Lae.19 The church Calvin Stafford built at Kumul seated some six hundred worshippers. It was dedicated in October 1950.20

Calvin started a new mission station at Paglum in the Western Highlands Province in 1953.21 He built the family home, staff accommodation, and school room with bamboo walls and floors, and thatched grass roofs with the help of local laborers.22 The Staffords ran a small clinic for minor ailments. Calvin Stafford became adept at extracting teeth. Beryl Stafford taught the schoolgirls basic hand sewing.23 A third child, Margaret Daphne, was born in Lae.24

In June 1954, the family moved to Boliu on Mussau Island.25 A fourth child, Lynette Nancy, was born in Madang on the way to Mussau.26 One of the first tasks Calvin Stafford accomplished at Boliu was to install the lighting plant and wire the station buildings. His most significant contribution was to break the local prejudice against girls attending school. They almost doubled the enrollment, by adding fifteen girls, even though the family was there for only a few months.27

After their furlough at the beginning of 1955, Calvin and Beryl Stafford left Sydney on July 30 bound for Batuna, in the Western Solomon Islands.28 Calvin Stafford’s first major job was to get the mission sawmill working. The sawmill provided timber and income for mission and local needs. His practical background and resourcefulness enabled him to manage the mill, service the twenty-seven-foot logging ship, repair the power plant, and conduct general maintenance. As much as possible, he tried to identify with the people he served. On one occasion, when towing logs across a treacherous ocean by night, Calvin joined the crew in diving under the ship to free the propeller–in spite of the risk of shark attack.29

In addition to practical tasks, Calvin supervised the mission work in the area. Although it was challenging, he learned the local Marovo language and became skilled at handling a local canoe. Stafford’s practice of regularly visiting the villagers, eating with them, sleeping in their homes, and talking with them in their own language, did much to enhance his ministry. He conducted regular seminars for Sabbath School teachers at Batuna, and preached every Sabbath in the nearby villages, writing out his sermons in Marovo.30 At his ordination in 1958, it was noted that he was “doing a vast amount of pastoral work among the villages of the Marovo and New Georgia districts. 31

While at Batuna, Beryl Stafford spent most of her time supervising the correspondence school for the children as well as managing the daily radio schedule for the station, but found time to teach music and some sewing to the local students.32 When she realized that buttons were not locally available, she advertised in the Australasian Record.33 The many buttons that were sent in response were sold and the proceeds put in the investment offering.34

In 1963, the family moved to Korela, on the Papuan coast, while daughter Ruth remained in Australia to continue her education.35 Calvin Stafford supervised several mission districts and schools from the Korela station, and again he was challenged to master the local language, on this occasion, Motu.36 His mechanical skills and willingness to help local people with outboard motor problems were passed on to son Gordon, who was called on to help when Stafford was away on patrol.37

After three years at Korela, Gordon was sent to Avondale to finish high school while his parents and two younger sisters went furlough beginning July 1, 1966. After furlough, Calvin Stafford served as district director for six years at Yani in the Chimbu province,38 regularly hiking the mountains to visit the missionaries and churches in his care.39 His Land Rover and trailer became well known in the area, as did the white safari helmet he always wore. 40

Margaret and Nancy were sent to Australia for education in 1970. At the beginning of 1972, Calvin and Beryl Stafford moved to Homu in the Eastern Highlands province. They remained there until they retired from full-time service on January 15, 1977.41 Calvin Stafford continued to hike the trails, going where no white missionary had been before, to the remotest corners of his territory despite increasing pain in his legs.

Later Life

Upon retirement, Calvin and Beryl Stafford settled in the family home in Cooranbong, but they continued to be involved in the work of the Church. He engaged in visitation, Bible studies, Pathfinders, religion classes, Ingathering, and helping start a church plant at Wyee, in spite of having six hip replacement surgeries. After several months of illness, Beryl Stafford died on March 10, 2005.42 Calvin Stafford died on August 17, 2005.43

Contribution

Calvin Stafford was a pioneer who visited every part of his territory, and shared his faith with any who would listen–local people, anthropologists, government officers, and missionaries of other faiths.44 Growing up amid poor conditions in isolated places prepared both Calvin and Beryl Stafford for work as missionaries in remote places. The practical skills Calvin Stafford gained at the farm and the SHF factory enabled him to make improvements on every mission station–machinery, buildings, vehicles, motors–and to help the local people with his expertise.

Stafford never stopped reading and studying. He was even trying to master a computer when he was hospitalized for the last time. He was “one of the stalwarts of the mission fields,”45 a pioneer missionary. One of his colleagues paid tribute to Stafford in these words: he “gave his complete life to island mission service. Seldom has a man been so dedicated, or given so fully and unselfishly of himself.”46

Sources

Aveling, R. L. “Progress Around the Coral Sea.” Australasian Record, October 10, 1966.

“Brevities.” Australasian Record, May 10, 1948.

“Brevities.” Australasian Record, August 15, 1955.

“Brevities.” Australasian Record, June 17, 1957.

“Brevities.” Australasian Record, September 15, 1958.

“Brevities.” Australasian Record, April 1, 1963.

“Brother A. W. Knight...” Australasian Record, December 17, 1917.

“Brother C. Stafford arrived...” Australasian Record, September 23, 1918.

“C. Stafford, Field Missionary, New Ireland.” Australasian Record, April 11, 1955.

Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives.

Calvin Ronald Stafford Service Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives.

Calvin Ronald Stafford Sustentation Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives.

“Flash Point.” Australasian Record, February 21, 1977.

French, J. W. “The Chimbu Heritage.” Australasian Record, January 11, 1954.

Hammond, Lillian A. “Missionary Ladies.” Australasian Record, April 2, 1963.

Hawkes, L. N. “A Double Portion.” Australasian Record, January 21, 1980.

Hawkes, Lester and Max Mulligan. “Beryl Jean Stafford obituary” Record [South Pacific Division], April 9, 2005.

Hawkes, Lester and Max Mulligan, “Pastor Calvin Ronald Stafford obituary.” Record [South Pacific Division], October 29, 2005.

Maberly, Frank T. “Advances in Central New Guinea.” Australasian Record, February 15, 1954.

Nolan, H. W. “Kumul Church Dedication.” Australasian Record, February 26, 1951.

“Observations in New Guinea.” Australasian Record, October 18, 1948.

“People and Events.” Australasian Record, July 11, 1966.

Rudge, W. E. “Stafford-Trood wedding.” Australasian Record, February 18, 1946.

Sexton, Fay. “Family and Ancestry.” Unpublished manuscript. March 1995. Held in the personal collection of the author.

Stafford, C. R. “Wanted. Spare dress...” Australasian Record, May 23, 1960.

Stafford, Calvin. “Bismarck-Solomons Medley–Extracts from Reports Presented at the Recent Session of This Union.” Australasian Record, April 11, 1955.

“Stafford Family Tree Folder: Number 1.” Unpublished document held in the personal collection of the author.

Stafford, Mrs. C. R. “One Quarter End.” Australasian Record, June 14, 1954.

Wicks, H. B. P. “Charles Stafford obituary.” Australasian Record, September 16, 1946.

Notes

  1. Much of the information in this article is written from the personal knowledge and experience of the author, the only son of Calvin and Beryl Stafford, and the assistance of Ruth (Stafford) Cregan, eldest daughter of Calvin and Beryl Stafford.

  2. Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  3. Personal knowledge of the author as the son of Calvin and Beryl Stafford.

  4. “Brother A. W. Knight...,” Australasian Record, December 17, 1917, 8; “Brother C. Stafford arrived...,” Australasian Record, September 23, 1918, 8.

  5. Fay Sexton (Stafford), “Family and Ancestry,” unpublished manuscript, March 1995, held in the personal collection of the author.

  6. H. B. P. Wicks, “Charles Stafford obituary,” Australasian Record, September 16, 1946, 7.

  7. “Stafford Family Tree Folder: Number 1,” unpublished document held in the personal collection of the author.

  8. Fay Sexton (Stafford), “Family and Ancestry,” unpublished manuscript, March 1995, held in the personal collection of the author.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  11. Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  12. W. E. Rudge, “Stafford-Trood wedding,” Australasian Record, February 18, 1946, 7.

  13. “Stafford Family Tree Folder: Number 1,” unpublished document held in the personal collection of the author.

  14. Ruth Cregan, daughter of Calvin and Beryl Stafford, interview by author, July 5, 2018, Perth, Western Australia.

  15. Calvin Ronald Stafford Service Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Personal Service Record.”

  16. Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  17. “Brevities,” Australasian Record, May 10, 1948, 8.

  18. “Observations in New Guinea,” Australasian Record, October 18, 1948, 5; J. W. French, “The Chimbu Heritage,” Australasian Record, January 11, 1954, 5.

  19. Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  20. H. W. Nolan, “Kumul Church Dedication,” Australasian Record, February 26, 1951, 8.

  21. Mrs. C. R. Stafford, “One Quarter End,” Australasian Record, June 14, 1954, 6.

  22. Frank T. Maberly, “Advances in Central New Guinea,” Australasian Record, February 15, 1954, 5.

  23. Ruth Cregan, daughter of Calvin and Beryl Stafford, interview with the author, July 5, 2018, Perth, Western Australia.

  24. Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald Biographical Record.”

  25. “C. Stafford, Field Missionary, New Ireland,” Australasian Record, April 11, 1955, 4.

  26. Calvin Ronald Stafford Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald Biographical Record.”

  27. Calvin Stafford, “Bismarck-Solomons Medley–Extracts from Reports Presented at the Recent Session of This Union,” Australasian Record, April 11, 1955, 4.

  28. “Brevities,” Australasian Record, August 15, 1955, 8; Calvin Ronald Stafford Service Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Personal Service Record.”

  29. Personal knowledge of the author as the son of Calvin and Beryl Stafford.

  30. Ibid.

  31. “Brevities,” Australasian Record, June 17, 1957, 8; “Brevities,” Australasian Record, September 15, 1958, 16.

  32. Lillian A. Hammond, “Missionary Ladies,” Australasian Record, April 2, 1963, 8.

  33. C. R. Stafford, “Wanted. Spare dress...,” Australasian Record, May 23, 1960, 15.

  34. Ruth Cregan, daughter of Calvin and Beryl Stafford, interview with the author, July 5, 2018, Perth, Western Australia.

  35. “Brevities,” Australasian Record, April 1, 1963, 16.

  36. R. L. Aveling, “Progress Around the Coral Sea,” Australasian Record, October 10, 1966, 8.

  37. Personal knowledge of the author as the son of Calvin and Beryl Stafford.

  38. “People and Events,” Australasian Record, July 11, 1966, 12.

  39. For example, see Calvin Stafford, “New Work Begins to Open in New Guinea,” Australasian Record, April 20, 1970, 8.

  40. Ruth Cregan, daughter of Calvin and Beryl Stafford, interview with the author, July 5, 2018, Perth, Western Australia.

  41. Calvin Ronald Stafford Sustentation Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, folder: “Stafford, Calvin Ronald,” document: “Sustentation Fund application: Calvin Ronald Stafford.”

  42. Lester Hawkes and Max Mulligan, “Beryl Jean Stafford obituary,” Record [South Pacific Division], April 9, 2005, 30.

  43. Lester Hawkes and Max Mulligan, “Pastor Calvin Ronald Stafford obituary,” Record [South Pacific Division], October 29, 2005, 14.

  44. R. L. Aveling, “Progress Around the Coral Sea,” Australasian Record, October 10, 1966, 8.

  45. “Flash Point,” Australasian Record, February 21, 1977, 16.

  46. L. N. Hawkes, “A Double Portion,” Australasian Record, January 21, 1980, 11.

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Stafford, Gordon. "Stafford, Calvin Ronald (1917–2005) and Beryl Jean (Trood) (1922–2005)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=985J.

Stafford, Gordon. "Stafford, Calvin Ronald (1917–2005) and Beryl Jean (Trood) (1922–2005)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access September 30, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=985J.

Stafford, Gordon (2020, January 29). Stafford, Calvin Ronald (1917–2005) and Beryl Jean (Trood) (1922–2005). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 30, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=985J.