Local leader Staff dies at 98
By By Paul Keane
Funeral services for Eddie "Pop" Staff, a big community leader for many years in Atmore, were held on Tuesday at St. Robert's Catholic Church, with Father Cecil Spotswood officiating. Interment followed at Oak Hill Cemeter.
Staff, who was instrumental in local commerce and recreation growth, died on Feb. 2 at a local hospital. He was 98 years old.
Born in Crown Point, Ind., he had been a resident of Atmore since 1933. He founded Staff Chevrolet and also played a role in founding the Atmore Chamber of Commerce and bringing Vanity Fair to the area. In addition, he supported many local sports programs.
Jim Staff, his son that still runs the dealership near downtown Atmore, said his father led a full life.
"He was one of the founders of the Chamber, and he helped get Vanity Fair to come to Atmore," Jim said. "He was very active in a number of things, and he stayed active in the dealership for 63 years, giving up his duties just about two years ago due to his health."
Born in Crown Point, Ind., his family moved to Mexico when he was a child, eventually leaving when federal authorities advised them to do so because of threats made against Americans by the bandit Poncho Villa.
He eventually moved to Florida, where he was working at a Chevrolet dealership when he met his future wife, Nell Yearwood. The two were wed in 1931 and remained married for 71 years. The couple moved to Atmore in 1933, opening Staff Chevrolet in 1937 and raising six children in the process, all of whom worked in the dealership at one time or another.
He was preceded in death by a son, Edmund A. Staff, Jr., and a great-grandson, Aaron Adam Staff.
He is survived by his wife, Nell Yearwood Staff of Atmore; three sons and their wives, Bill and Ann Staff, Jim and Myrtle Staff and Chipper and Wanda Staff, all of Atmore; two daughters and their husbands, Susan Staff and Johnnie Calvert of Haleyville, Ala., and Catherine Staff and Dale Tims of Atmore; 18 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and seven step-grandchildren.
Pallbearers at the service were his grandsons, Ed Staff, III, Bill Staff, Jr., Steve Staff, David Staff, Speer Staff, John Calvert and Petty Officer Byron Tims.