Colonel (Ret.) Joseph Lawrence Stallings, 91, passed away on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Born in Sanston, Va., on September 16, 1929, he was the son of Richard and Anna Birkerstaff Stallings.
Joe attended St. Joe’s Prep in Philadelphia, Pa., and went on to study at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., on a football and ROTC scholarship. While studying at the University, Joe met his wife Sybilla Leonard. In 1953, Joe graduated and was sworn into the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant. Joe was an avid scholar and attended numerous institutional and military schools. His accomplishments included masters degree at American University in Washington, D.C., Basic Infantry Officer Course, Airborne School, Jumpmaster Course, Heavy Drop Course, Infantry Officer Advance Course, Ranger School, Turkish language, Command and General Staff College, Special Forces Qualifications Course, and Vietnamese language.
Joe was a highly decorated veteran. He served his country for 30 years on active-duty status in which he participated in combat during the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict. He and has family spent many years stationed in Turkey, Germany, and stateside. His primary specialty titles included but were not limited to Infantry Officer, Foreign Area Officer (FAO), and Special Forces. Some of his more distinguished decorations are the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with 2 OLC, Bronze Star Medal with “V” device with 1 OLC, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with 1 OLC, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Army of Occupation Medal – Germany, National Defense Service Medal with 1 OLC, Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation – Korea, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm-unit, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star, and Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal .Joe was one of only a handful of people in the entire U.S. Government that had the skill set and language skills to perform the duties he did as the FAO in Turkey, having a strong influence in the entire Middle Eastern Region. On August 31, 1983, he retired from active duty.
Although many knew Joe as a solider, he was a committed family man to his seven children. He coached their swim and baseball teams, together they explored historical landmarks, and he instilled in them an appreciation for the outdoors. Joe’s passion for fishing brought him and his wife Sybilla from New Jersey to North Carolina in 1990. Joe loved every dog he met and each of them loved him. It was then that Joe developed a hobby for growing tomatoes and blueberries. He took up RVing and traveled throughout the United States, including Alaska.
Joe was blessed to have an opportunity to find love again after the passing of his wife Sybilla. In 1997, Joe met and married Fairy Keever and expanded his family by including two step daughters.
Joe was a man of action and his Catholic faith was the core to his beliefs. Joe demonstrated numerous acts of kindness and community services throughout the years. He became an active member of veterans’ organizations – Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Iredell County Veterans Council and Iredell County Burial Detail, performing the final call for fellow veterans more than 2,500 times. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and participated in various social programs.
Joe is predeceased by Sybilla, his wife and mother of his children; sister: Mary Taney; brothers: Richard, Frank, Jackie, Leon, and George; and dear friend and flea market pal Nelson LaClair.
He is survived by his wife, Fairy Keever Stallings; his children: Joseph L. (Karen); Valerie Otterstedt (Jan-Erik, late husband); Julie Kaeck (Mark); Lori Weston (Ed); Peter (Janet); Patricia Hagner (Ralph, late husband); Richard (Julie); step-daughter, Vickie Adamson (Mark) and step-daughter, Stephanie Miller (Ty); Also surviving are 17 grandchildren, one step-grandson and sixteen great-grandchildren. Also surviving are sisters-in-law, Joyce Stallings and Susan Stallings; and numerous other relatives.
Mr. Stallings will lie in state at Troutman Funeral Home on Sunday, February 28, 2021, from 12 to 5 p.m. and a funeral service will follow on Monday, March 1, 2021, at 2 p.m. at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church with burial to follow at Iredell Memorial Gardens with full military honors. The family asks that anyone attending the service please follow the COVID-19 protocol.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, 525 Camden Drive, Statesville, NC 28677 or Hospice and Palliative Care of Iredell County at 2347 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC 28625.
Online condolences can be made to the family at www.troutmanfuneralhome.com.
Troutman Funeral Home is serving the family.