TOPSHAM – John H. Staples, formerly of Yarmouth, died Jan. 21, 2013. Born May 2, 1920, in Bryn Mawr, Pa., he was the second son of Philip C. Staples and Mary H. Staples, as well as a 10th generation descendent of Peter Staples, an English colonist who landed in Kittery in 1670, where he received a land grant and started a new life.
John attended Haverford School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In December 1940 he left college and volunteered for military service as a horse soldier in the 104th Cavalry Regiment, a Pennsylvania National Guard unit. In the early spring of 1942, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was commissioned a first lieutenant and assigned to the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 3rd Armored Division stationed at Fort Polk, La. After extensive training in the Mojave Desert and the hills of northern Pennsylvania, his division was shipped to England for further training in the vicinity of Salisbury Plain. In June 1944, following the assault on Omaha Beach, his division landed in Normandy. During the Allied breakthrough later that month, his unit was deployed as the reconnaissance screen in advance of a reinforced tank battalion. In the months that followed, as this force moved across northern France and Belgium to the German frontier, Lt. Staples was wounded in action four times, twice in Normandy and twice more in the Battle of the Bulge. During this period of four months, he earned four Purple Hearts and was awarded three Silver Stars for exploits in close combat. In January 1945, following his final injury, he was evacuated to England and from there was given passage on a hospital ship to Norfolk, Va., and was then transferred to Walter Reed Hospital for eye surgery. When he returned to duty, he was assigned to a California base on Catalina Island where Special Forces Units were in training for the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands. When the Far East war ended in August 1945, he returned to his family home in Pennsylvania and resumed his education at the University of Pennsylvania while working in the office of a casualty insurance company in Philadelphia. In the spring of 1948 John left Pennsylvania and traveled to Bangor, where he found employment in the woodlands department of Great Northern Paper Co., working with a forest management group in the northern counties of the state. In September 1949, he married Barbara Jewett Nealley, the oldest daughter of E. Bowdoin and Maxine Nealley. After residing briefly in Bangor, he and his family moved to Millinocket, where he was assistant to the superintendent of the company’s West Branch District, responsible for lumbering operations and the river drives in that region. In 1952 John was reassigned to the company sales office in New York City, moving his family to Riverside, Conn., shortly thereafter. In 1961 he was made general sales manager of the company, and in 1967 he became vice president of sales. During these years he also served as an elected representative on the Greenwich Town Council. He also became an active member of the New York City Chamber of Commerce where he served on the International Trade Committee. Additionally, he served one term as president of the Newsprint Division of the American Paper Institute. In 1980 Staples retired from Great Northern Paper Co. and moved to a house that he and his wife built in Yarmouth. He began volunteering at Maine Medical Center and eventually became chairman of the Annual Fund Committee. During the next 30 years he donated his services to a number of nonprofit organizations in southern and midcoast Maine, including Maine Maritime Museum, World Affairs Council of Maine, Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, Portland Symphony Orchestra, North Yarmouth Academy, Opportunity Farm for Boys and Girls, and the Red Cross. For 10 years or more he was also a case mediator for the District Court of Cumberland, as well as a counselor for the Portland chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives – SCORE. He also strongly supported the University of Southern Maine and regularly attended classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USM.
Memorial visitation will be held 2-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at Brackett Funeral Home, 29 Federal St., Brunswick, immediately followed by a memorial service with military honors at 2:30 at the funeral home. Spring interment will be at Riverside Cemetery, Yarmouth. To share a message of condolence or a fond memory with the Staples family, please visit John’s memorial page at www.brackettfuneralhome.com.