Jack Stafford

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John Dilman Stafford

Born: May 26, 1921
Died: May 10, 2014 (Toronto)

Member: Etobicoke (Ont.) Sports Hall of Fame (2003)

Jack Stafford was the namesake scion of a food products empire built by his father. J.H. (Jack) Stafford was a traveling salesman and broker who turned Stafford Foods into a manufacturing and wholesale success with more than 500 retail food products. The fortune earned selling food allowed him to make a successful foray into thoroughbred horse racing beginning in 1950. Stafford Farms and its familiar red-and-white silks with a red star won many races over the years, including three Queen’s Plate victors. His stable made him the leading money-winning owner for four years in the late 1970s. J.H. Stafford, nicknamed the “Jam and Jelly Man,” died in King City, Ont., in 1981. He was 86.

ImageYoung Jack Stafford began his hockey career in the Depression playing junior-B hockey for Upper Canada College, an exclusive private school. In 1940-41, Stafford played for the Toronto Marlboros, as well as a team sponsored by People’s Credit jewellers and another by the Toronto Telegram newspaper.

He skated for the Toronto Red Indians and the Tip Top Tailors team the following season, once again suiting up with the senior-A Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey Association. In 10 games with the Marlies in 1941-42, Stafford scored six goals with three assists.

The following season saw him playing for Toronto Stafford Industries, a team sponsored by his father’s business. He was also seconded to the Aurora Army team for the playoffs, scoring a goal and adding two assists in four games as the military team claimed the Ontario intermediate title in 1943.

He had enlisted in the navy in 1941, which limited his hockey options, though he managed to play through the war years. He played for Toronto Navy and Cornwallis (N.S.) Navy during the final years of the war. He concluded his career playing senior-A hockey with the Toronto Staffords in 1945-46 and 1946-47.

In 1954, he co-founded the Humber Valley Hockey Association with Stafford Smythe and Ray Picard. The league launched with just two teams (Redmen and Hornets) and now boasts more than 1,100 players each season. The best-known players to come from the association are goaltending brothers Dave and Ken Dryden.

Jack Stafford, who maintained residences in Toronto and Mont Tremblant, Que., died in Toronto, aged 92. He leaves Louise, his wife of 49 years; five children; 13 grandchildren; and, four great-grandchildren.

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