Remembering Our Founder, John Stapleford
Originally posted by: Jacob Owens, Delaware Business Times
Published On September 3rd, 2021
John Stapleford, a founding member and former director of the Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI) and the founder of the Delaware Small Business Development Center (SBDC), died Aug. 25 at age 74.
Stapleford wrote the founding charter for the Delaware SBDC in 1984, launching the group that provides free training and consultation to startups and small businesses looking to grow. At that time, Delaware was one of the few states without a SBDC.
“John viewed entrepreneurship as a primary economic development tool,” recalled Clinton Tymes, who served as the Delaware SBDC director for 20 years from 1993 to 2013. Unlike others he encountered in his long career in business development though, Tymes said that Stapleford was different than the typical number-cruncher.
“I kidded John all the time that he was my favorite economist with a heart,” he said. “John was always about helping the underserved. He did that through his work as an economist. He lived life that way by working with his church and a few organizations in the city of Wilmington that help individuals who had come across hard times. He had a big heart.”
Stapleford also took his principles to heart, Tymes said, recalling how he was often critical of the banking industry’s power in Delaware, and credit card giant MBNA in particular. In 1995, the company donated $2.5 million toward the creation of the university’s College of Business and Economics – today named after the late former MBNA chairman Alfred Lerner.
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We honor the life of our SBDC founder, John Stapleford, who passed away August 25th at age 74.