A native of Bland, Virginia, John Stafford attended Bland High School before entering Roanoke College. He served as president of the Inter-fraternity Council and president and treasurer of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity at Roanoke and in 1957 received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in economics.
Stafford's career has been interesting and diverse. His first jobs were in the moving and transfer business, working as branch manager for Lawrence Transfer in Lynchburg, Virginia, as a salesman for Knight Moving and Storage in Lynchburg, and as vice president of Pitzer Transfer in Roanoke. In 1965, Stafford became national account manager for Xerox Corporation, working in Danville and Roanoke. After eleven years with Xerox, he left to become general manger of Woodie Outdoor Advertising in Kingsport, Tennessee, a move that would prove invaluable.
In 1979, Stafford started his own advertising company. Stafford Communications, Inc. is a highly successful business that is located in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It deals in outdoor billboard advertising and serves areas in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Stafford is now chairman of the company and son, Jay, is president.
Stafford has been active in many professional and civic activities. He has served as president of the Tri-Cities Metro Ad Federation, treasurer of the Virginia Outdoor Advertising Association, and on the board of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, and he has received the Silver Medal Award from the American Advertising Federation. Stafford currently serves as chairman of the National Brain Injury Treatment and Training Foundation, an organization that is close to his heart.
Stafford and his wife, Shirley Lawhorn Stafford, are long-time members of the Roanoke College Associates. They are members of the Society of 1842 where they have endowed a scholarship at Roanoke in honor of their daughter, Jennifer K. Stafford. John helped to establish a Southwest Virginia/East Tennessee Roanoke Alumni Chapter and presently serves as chair. He also served on the Class of 1957's 40th and 50th Reunion Committees. He and Shirley reside in Jonesborough and are the parents of Jay, Scott, and Jennifer.
John R. Stafford, Jr. received the Roanoke College Medal in 2007.