|By Mitchell P. McDonald
As a senior lineman at St. Thomas Academy during the 1989 football season, AKOBAYE DREXELL STAFFORD quietly led the Cadets to the semifinals of the Class AA state playoffs.
Stafford, described by family, friends and colleagues as a husband, father, poet, athlete, soldier, advisor and care provider, died Friday, October 30, in Corvallis, Oregon.
He earned All State and All Metro honors in ’89 after registering 94 tackles (11 for losses), 10 sacks, three fumbles and two deflected passes. Minnesota and Iowa showed some interest, but he chose to attend the University of Maine, where he had an outstanding four-year career as a linebacker.
Stafford also served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
After earning a master’s degree in college-student service administration, he went on to provide academic and social support to student-athletes at the University of Oregon and Louisiana State University. Stafford was most passionate in his role as special-needs foster parent provider.
A military interment will be held Friday, November 19, 10 am, at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in St. Paul. A memorial will follow at 11:30 am at Progressive Baptist Church, 1505 Burns Avenue, St. Paul.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.