Frederick Stapleford, 89, Haddonfield school official

Frederick H. Stapleford, 89, of Haddonfield, a former business executive with various publishing companies, including The Inquirer, who after retirement became a well-known figure in the Haddonfield School District, died of congestive heart failure Monday, May 24, at Moorestown Estates.

From the time he was a student, following through his corporate career and even during retirement, Mr. Stapleford was seen by most people as an innovative leader.

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FrederickH. Stapleford

As The Inquirer's business manager and advertising director under Walter Annenberg, Mr. Stapleford started a program in 1964 to groom savvy advertising salesmen with such a command of their product they could beat competitors, according to an Inquirer article.

"We believe it is assuring us that we'll have a cool cat in that hot steam room of competition," he said.

Such descriptive analogies were not uncommon in his speeches and letters, and neither was his candor, those who knew him said.

After having a "wild career," as Haddonfield Mayor Tish Colombi called it, Mr. Stapleford brought his corporate management experience to Haddonfield. He set up a high school alumni association, mentored founders of a town newspaper, and served on the Board of Education.

Mr. Stapleford was born and raised in Philadelphia. He graduated from West Philadelphia High in 1937 and the University of Pennsylvania in 1941. He was named alumni president at the university and held that title for many years.

He worked in the advertising and promotion department of Armstrong Cork Co. for about a year until going off to fight in the South Pacific during World War II.

He married Jane R. Limerick in 1943.

After returning from the Army in 1946, Mr. Stapleford taught English composition at the University of Pennsylvania for two years. For a year, he was editorial coordinator for the Budd Co.

In 1950, he was called back to military duty and, as a major in the Military Intelligence Reserve, edited classified briefs at the Pentagon during the Korean War.

When he returned to the business world, he got a big break in 1953 when he was appointed executive director of Inquirer Charities Inc. At that time, The Inquirer was owned by Triangle Publications, which also owned TV Guide. With his foot in the door at the company's charity, Mr. Stapleford soon became TV Guide's California edition manager.

By 1957, he was back at the TV Guide headquarters in Philadelphia as promotional director. He developed TV Guide's first special-service edition devoted to closed-circuit educational television.

Annenberg appointed Mr. Stapleford to The Inquirer's advertising and promotions department in 1958, and Mr. Stapleford rose through the ranks there until leaving in 1966 as advertising director and business manager.

He went on to work for Hugh Hefner Publishing and Crowell, Collier & MacMillan Inc., where he held many executive titles, including president of the Katherine Gibbs School, a secretarial-training school.

In 1975, Mr. Stapleford and his second wife, Susan, whom he married in 1966, moved to Haddonfield.

There, he served on the school board from 1980 to 1984. While he campaigned for the board seat, he inspired Colombi, his neighbor at the time, to take up politics, she said.

In 1989, he began substitute teaching at Haddonfield High. One of his after-school routines was going to the public library and checking out three books, all of which would be read by the next day, his son John said.

He officially retired in 1996, but he continued to be active in the Haddonfield Alumni Society he had started in 1992.

Besides his son and second wife, Mr. Stapleford is survived by daughters Irene H. Stapleford and Kate T. Crawford; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son Frederick H.
 

At Mr. Stapleford's request, no services will be held. Donations may be made to the Haddonfield public library or the Boy Scouts of America.


Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or cvargas@phillynews.com.