Dr. James B. Stafford, Jr., retired optometrist, became a centenarian on September 16, this year.
He and his wife Evelyn have been married for 77 years! She is also a centenarian, They broke racial barriers of segregation and discrimination to make a better life for their children and others: he started the first Black Boy Scout Troop in Peoria and mentored four boys to become Eagle Scouts – the first Blacks in the state of Illinois.
Dr. Stafford, a WWI veteran, was inspired in his childhood to become an optometrist after visiting a Black doctor. After completing optometry school, he relocated to Peoria in 1954 and began his dental practice in a rented building on Adams Street, where his family lived upstairs, while he treated black and white patients downstairs.
Dr. Stafford has been an active member of his church and widely engaged in the Peoria community: Local and state Optometric Associations,
Peoria City Council,
Boy Scout Council,
Peoria Park District,
He was recognized by the Boy Scout Council with the Whitney Young, Jr. Award for his service to youth, and the Peoria NAACP Game Changer Award for his service to his community. Many other contributions and awards are detailed in the book ‘Topspin’ written by his son, James III. He also has a great love for athletics. In his eighties, he would beat his own son in ttennis.
Happy Birthday Dr. Stafford!