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John Gill Stanley Jr., steel firm executive, active alumnus of Nichols, Princeton

April 1, 1948 – Dec. 22, 2015

John Gill Stanley Jr., a local steel company executive for more than 40 years and an active alumnus of both Nichols School and Princeton University, died Tuesday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. He was 67.

An almost lifelong resident of Buffalo, Mr. Stanley graduated in 1966 from Nichols, where he played football and hockey. He went on to Princeton, where he was a member of Naval ROTC, serving on the Alexander Hamilton nuclear submarine for three months before his senior year. He earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1970.

After working for three years in accounting at Arthur Andersen in New Jersey, Mr. Stanley returned to Buffalo in 1973, joining Stanley Steel Service Corp., the family business started by his father, John G. Stanley, in 1956. The company buys manufactured steel bars and cuts them to the desired specifications before selling them. Mr. Stanley rose from company vice president to president in 1996 and remained active in the office, even in failing health, until two weeks before his death.

Armed with a very strong work ethic, he still signed payroll checks recently from his hospital bed, and relatives noted that he never took vacations. As he often told his wife, Mary Louise, “If your name were on the side of the building, you’d understand.”

Long after his school days, Mr. Stanley remained involved with his two alma maters.

At Nichols, he served as president of the school’s Alumni Association and chaired its Derby Day auction in the 1980s. His efforts with the alumni earned him a Nichols Alumni Award in the early 1990s. Mr. Stanley also was active with the Princeton Schools Committee, interviewing applicants from local high schools for about 20 years. He also served on the local Salvation Army board of directors until his death and was a longtime board member of the national Metals Service Center Institute.

Mr. Stanley enjoyed Buffalo and its history and had an encyclopedic knowledge of its neighborhoods and streets, never needing GPS technology. And while he wrote software computer programs when that skill was in its infancy decades ago, he didn’t get his own cellphone until last summer; he just felt he didn’t need one.

An often-reserved man who liked routine – he lived much of his adult life in the same Delaware District home where he grew up – Mr. Stanley also was known for one fashion statement, always sporting his signature bow ties (never a clip-on). He also flashed a playful side, participating in partners’ golf-course pranks while playing at Cherry Hill Country Club. And years ago, as a high school hockey player, he reveled in the annual tradition of delivering “Stanley’s Cup” in a lighthearted tribute to one of his teammates.

Surviving are his wife of 31 years, the former Mary Louise Magee; a son, J. Gill Stanley III; a sister, Chelsea Kehde; and two brothers, Christopher and Peter.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Joseph University Church, 3269 Main St.

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