Henry George Stifel Jr. Business Executive, Civic Leader, Philanthropist, Air Force Veteran, and Family Man
Henry George Stifel Jr., 85, of Vero Beach, FL and Jackson Hole, WY and formerly of Short Hills, NJ, died on September 18, 2013. “Hank”, as his many friends and colleagues called him, lived a full life as a distinguished business executive, civic leader, philanthropist, Air Force veteran, and family man.
Motivated by an automobile accident that left his seventeen-year-old son Henry G. Stifel III in a wheelchair in 1982, Hank dedicated much of his life thereafter leading efforts to find a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury. Conventional wisdom at the time was that spinal cord injuries were permanent, and as a consequence there were very few researchers (or research dollars) in the field. Hank and his wife Charlotte refused to accept this supposition. With the help of friends and others who were touched by spinal cord injury, Hank founded and was President, CEO, and Chairman of the Stifel Paralysis Research Foundation (SPRF) whose mission was to raise funds and encourage research for a cure for paralysis and related neurological disorders. Several years later, after also serving as a director of the American Paralysis Association (APA), Hank was elected Chairman and CEO of the APA, into which he merged SPRF.
In 1995 Christopher Reeve, the actor best known for his role as Superman, was paralyzed in a horse riding accident. Reeve reached out to Hank and the APA and Chris and his wife Dana soon committed themselves to “the cause”, subsequently joining the board of the APA. Shortly thereafter the APA was renamed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Chris Reeve became Chairman, and Hank became Chairman Emeritus. While a full cure has not been realized, great strides in research have created therapies and treatments that have helped thousands of spinal cord injured victims regain function and dramatically improve their quality of life. There is now significant optimism that a cure is on the horizon, with many researchers worldwide devoted to achieving this goal. The Reeve Foundation is the leading fund raising organization that supports these researchers and has become a catalyst for their collaboration.
Hank was a successful business leader. He began his career as a salesman for the Ralph C. Coxhead Corporation, Newark, NJ in 1949. In 1955, Hank joined the Vari-typer Corporation as Branch Manager in Montreal, Canada, and four years later was recruited by Xerox of Canada Ltd. as Vice President & General Manager where, under his eight years of leadership, Xerox grew dramatically. Hank subsequently joined Armotek Industries, Inc., Palmyra, NJ, in 1964, from which he retired in 1988 as CEO and Chairman. Under Hank’s leadership, Armotek became a leading cylinder and roller engraver for the gravure and flexographic printing industries. Hank also served on the boards of Titanium Industries, Inc. and Banker Securities Life Insurance Company. Hank Stifel was also a Founding Partner of the New York Islanders, an NHL hockey organization.
Hank Stifel supported education, serving on the boards of the Pingry School, Martinsville, NJ and the Choate Rosemary Hall School, Wallingford, CT. In honor of their son, Hank and Charlotte established the Henry G. Stifel III Scholarship at Choate Rosemary Hall and The Pingry School. The scholarship, for disabled students, is awarded to an individual who has overcome adversity and exhibited qualities of courage, endurance and optimism.
Hank was a lover and collector of art and served on the boards of the Vero Beach Museum of Art, Vero Beach, FL and The National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, WY. He was committed to environmental conservation and served on the board of the Indian River Land Trust, Vero Beach, FL.
Everyone who knew Hank would agree he loved life. He was an avid golfer, skier, sportsman and traveler. Whether he was heli-skiing in Canada (at age 72), looking down from a hot air-balloon at the migration of the wildebeests in Kenya, pedaling a bike from vineyard to vineyard through Burgundy, hiking in the mountains of Nepal, or trekking through the deserts of Morocco on a camel, Hank was always on the go. His club memberships include the Princeton Club of New York, Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ, the Short Hills Club, Short Hills, NJ, the Johns Island Club, Red Stick Golf Club, and Windsor Club, Vero Beach, FL, Ekwonok Country Club, Manchester, VT, and Teton Pines Country Club, Jackson, WY. He was a co-founder of the Bombay Bicycle and Ski Club.
Henry George Stifel, Jr. was born on December 15, 1927 to Henry G. Stifel, Sr., and Elizabeth P. Stevenson in Wheeling, WV. He is predeceased by his sister Elizabeth Stifel Kline. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his loving family: his wife, Charlotte Snead Stifel; three daughters, Wendy Hansen, Mountainside, NJ, Stephanie Coughlan, Wellesley, MA and Amy Quinn, Denver, CO; and one son, Henry G. Stifel III, New York, NY. He has three son-in-laws and nine grandchildren who will also miss him very much.
After spending his childhood in Wheeling, WV, Hank attended the Choate School (Class of 1946), Wallingford, CT where he played varsity football, baseball and track, and was captain of the basketball team. Hank was president of the Western Club and member of the choir and glee club. Hank graduated from Princeton University (Class of 1949) with a degree in Psychology. While at Princeton, he played varsity basketball, was advertising manager of the university magazine, the Nassau Sovereign, and was a member of the Elm Club.
From 1951 to 1953 Hank served in the Air Force. He attended Officers Candidate School, and served as Lieutenant and base personnel services officer, 41st Military Airlift Squadron, at Wheelus Air Base, Tripoli, Libya.
The celebration of Hank’s life will be held at Christ Church, 561 Springfield Ave, Summit, NJ. The service will be Saturday, Oct. 12th at 4pm. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with the family at the church on Friday, October 11th from 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm. Arrangements are made by William A. Bradley & Son Funeral Home, Chatham, NJ. For further information or to send a condolence, please go to our website: www.www.bradleyfuneralhomes.com. A memorial reception will be held at the Vero Beach Museum of Art, Vero Beach, Florida on Friday November 15 at 5pm.