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Jay and Millie Stafford
Jay Stafford died in November 2022 and is survived by his wife, Millie Stafford. | Image: Courtesy of Jay and Millie Stafford

Jay Stafford, a former student in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Engineering, leaves behind a legacy highlighted by a passion for innovation and supporting the next generation of Texas A&M University engineers.

“Mr. Stafford will be dearly missed,” said Dr. Guillermo Aguilar, mechanical engineering department head. “His support of mechanical engineering students in our department over the years has been life-changing for many students. It is encouraging to know that his legacy will be able to continue through each of those students as they, too, graduate to make a positive impact on the world.”

Stafford, who lived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, died in November 2022 and is survived by his wife, Millie Stafford.

His generous support of the mechanical engineering department included a scholarship — established in 2006 with Millie — which has now supported dozens of mechanical engineering students as they achieve their educational goals.

Melanie Meyer, a current student and recipient of Stafford’s scholarship, said she is deeply grateful for the opportunities the support has afforded her and thankful to those — like Stafford — who have helped to create an atmosphere of success and selfless service in the department.

“By giving me valuable time and support, the Jay H Stafford '48 Department of Mechanical Engineering Scholarship has allowed me to pursue my passions in engineering as well as extracurriculars such as earning my private pilot license and joining the SAE Aero Design competition team,” Meyer said. “I have worked hard throughout my education to show my appreciation and desire to make those who believe in me proud, including Mr. Stafford.”

Stafford graduated from the College of Agriculture in 1948 and returned to study mechanical engineering in 1958 after spending several years traveling around the world working in the geophysical industry.

He graduated from Texas A&M for the second time in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and went to work for Conoco, where he would remain for more than two decades. His time with the company saw Stafford supporting the explorations department by developing better, more efficient seismic vibrators.

Charles McCullough, a current mechanical engineering student and recipient of Stafford’s scholarship, said he is also grateful for the generosity of former students like Stafford, who have laid the groundwork for Texas A&M’s culture of support.

“The impact of support from former students to current students through scholarships is immeasurable,” McCullough said. “It not only helps provide access to education for those who may not otherwise have it, but it also creates a cycle of giving back and supporting future generations of students. It demonstrates the importance of giving back to the community and ensuring that future generations have the same opportunities for success. I am encouraged by Mr. Stafford to one day give a piece of my wealth so that generations following me have the same opportunities I have.”

While the system of support Stafford established continues to impact the lives of mechanical engineering students in profound ways, to him, it was nothing more than simple logic.

"There are many students that need help and I'm able to do it at this point," Stafford said in 2020. "It's the right thing to do. Aggies stick together and that's what I'm trying to do. There are many more that do the same thing. I just do what I can do."