Derwin Edward Stafford of McCoy, Va.,, shop supervisor of Virginia Tech's Joseph F. Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Lab, died Jan. 6. He was 42 years old.

"Derwin, as many who worked with him know, was the foundation and backbone of the Ware Lab, faithfully doing his job well beyond expectations since its opening in 1998," said Dewey Spangler, manager of the lab. "He was always very supportive of Ware Lab teams and helped maintain a safe and efficient lab. He encouraged everyone by just being in good spirits all of the time. We could always rely on him to help with areas of lab operation and he had a thorough knowledge of so many aspects of how things got done.

"He earned the respect of all who worked in the lab and demonstrated that much of what makes for good engineering training comes from those who build and fabricate what is designed in addition to what is learned in the classroom from our professors. He personally taught hundreds of students over the last 13 years the fine art of machining. One could see by his engagement that he strongly believed in what he was doing and wanted to provide the best instruction to those he interacted with. This was very inspiring to witness."

Stafford was with Virginia Tech for 20 years prior to his passing.

He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Edward and Lillie W. Stafford and Elizabeth and David Hungate; an aunt, Patsy Martin; cousin, Michael Whittaker; uncle Doug "Snowball" Crockett; uncle, James Lucas; and uncle, Bobby Whittaker. 

He is survived by his parents, James E. and Sally Martin Stafford; his daughter, Chelsie Stafford, Blacksburg; special companion, Sharon Henderson Hamlin and kids, Jessie Lynn and Ethan Carter Hamlin; aunts and uncles, Rhonda Crockett, Pearisburg, Bud Stafford and Ann, Pembroke, Mary Alice Lucas, Pearisburg, Frankie Whittaker, McCoy, Doug Williams and Gail, McCoy, Donnie Williams and companion, Mike, Shawsville; cousins, Hope Crockett, Angie Sult, Crystal and Greg Hypes, Ed, Shane, Chris, Paul, Ricky, and Stacy Lucas, Bryan Stafford, Brenda Metz, Keith Williams, Nicky Davis, Nick Whittaker, Alisha Whittaker, Corey Sult, Amber Martin, Carson Sult; special friends, Johnny and June Cox, and Susan Cortes.

Funeral services will be held today, Jan. 9, at 2 p.m. in the McCoy Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Gary McCoy officiating. Interment will follow in the Roselawn Memorial Gardens, Christiansburg.

Those in the university community who may wish assistance or desire counseling support may contact:

Information in this article was provided by Dewey Spangler and the Roanoke Times.

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