Stafford Middle School

In Memory of Sue Wilson Stafford

May 25, 2017

Sue Wilson Stafford, school namesake and beloved FISD educator who retired this month after 48 years of teaching, 38 of those in Frisco ISD, died May 24, 2017 at her home in Frisco.

At her retirement reception on May 10, which ran 30 minutes into overtime and drew a huge crowd of coworkers, students, and friends, she said that it had been her goal to make 50 years in education. 

Sue Wilson Stafford

Her health was failing when she retired but still her death was a shock to all who knew her.

Deputy Superintendent Doug Zambiasi made the guests at her retirement reception burst into laughter when he told about his first year as a new principal at Frisco Middle School. After a few months, Ms. Stafford came in and gave him an unsolicited evaluation of his job performance. She continued to do this every few months for the first two or three years he was a principal.  When he finally got the courage to remind her that he was her boss, she told him she realized that but thought he would appreciate her advice. He admitted that he did.

It was at that same reception that Zambiasi recounted the day his mother was visiting from out-of-state and met Stafford. Zambiasi had told his mother many stories about Stafford but when she met the teacher/local humanitarian in person, Mrs. Zambiasi told her son, “That woman is going to heaven.”

Zambiasi later told close friends that if Sue Stafford didn’t get into heaven, “the rest of us don’t stand a chance.”

Stafford was born in Madill, Oklahoma, in 1946. She graduated from Madill High and Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She began teaching in 1969 in Oklahoma and moved to Frisco ISD in 1979.

She has taught at the elementary, middle school and high school levels and served as the District’s Migrant Education Coordinator from 1983-1994.  At the time of her retirement, she was teaching students at the alternative program for middle school students at the Student Opportunity Center and for many years had also taught English as a Second Language and GED preparation classes to adults in the evenings along with her friend and fellow school namesake, Joyce Comstock. Her work with students always extended outside of the classroom and she worked countless hours for Frisco’s youth over the years.

People in need food or clothing always knew they could go to Stafford for advice and help. Those who wanted to give to others also knew that they could count on Stafford to pass on their extra food, beds, clothes, or shoes to a child or family in need – not questions asked, no names revealed.

She served on the Frisco Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and the YMCA Board of Directors and she and long-time civil servant Gary Burns founded the Frisco Children’s Fund to assist Frisco families in need for over 20 years. A scholarship fund in her honor through the Frisco Education Foundation provides college money for FISD seniors. Sue’s commitment to others garnered her Frisco Chamber of Commerce Golden Eagle Award (1990) and the Citizen of the Year Award (1998). She was also a lifetime member of the PTA.

Stafford was honored as Person of the Year by Frisco Style Magazine in June 2011 and a beautiful article, viewable here, was written about her.

Stafford was honored in October of 2015 during homecoming at her alma mater, Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma. Stafford was selected as a Distinguished Alumni for her contributions in education.

Sue’s mother was a teacher and both of her children, FHS graduates Kari and Brooke, are teachers in other school districts. Her legacy also continues through the successes of young people she helped mentor and considered family. Three of those young men, Lupe, Javier and Gerardo Gaona have graduated from Frisco High School and gone on to further education.  Javier and Gerardo live in Frisco and work for FISD.

When some of her former students made bad choices, Stafford regularly wrote to them in prison. She always encouraged them to use their time studying and reading.

For years, people in the know in Frisco have been aware that Stafford’s home garage was a place to leave donations and a place to drop by and pick up a pair of jeans or some children’s clothing if needed. If you wanted you could knock on the back door and say hi – or you could just go on your way.  It was all done on the honor system. It worked because people loved “Miss Sue.”

Her legacy lives on – in every person she touched in life and in the students who pass through Sue Wilson Stafford Middle School.

Information about a life celebration service is available here: http://www.memorialsolutions.com/sitemaker/memsol.cgi?page=services&user_id=1968129