By Earl Bittner, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Affairs Office
PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- During recent renovations of Building 781-0 aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, the Public Works Department (PWD) Requirements Manager Larry Maxwell was given a plaque that was removed from an interior wall of the building. The plaque indicated the building was dedicated to James H.R. (Jim) Stumbaugh Feb. 27, 1979.
"When the FEAD ET (Facilities Engineering Acquisition Division Engineering Technician) brought the plaque to me, I got with Carrie Williams, our Cultural Resources Manager and we decided it would be better served locating a family member and see if they would like to have this piece of history," said Maxwell who recently retired.
Maxwell searched the internet for the Stumbaugh family in Pensacola and got a hit for Katherine Pace Stumbaugh (Stumbaugh's wife) and her obituary from July 31, 2015. With that information in hand, Maxwell contacted the church that conducted the funeral and they provided a name, Diane Stumbaugh Gillespie (Stumbaugh's daughter), of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The church contacted Gillespie and she called Maxwell the next day.
"Mrs. Gillespie said she was there when the building was dedicated to her father and would love to have the plaque," said Maxwell. "Mrs. Gillespie said she was coming to Orange Beach in a couple months (May 4) and we could meet. We arranged to meet at the Lighthouse and I presented the plaque to her to take back to Virginia Beach."
NAS Pensacola Community Planner and Liaison Officer Stephen Opalenik is proud of what Maxwell was able to do.
"I think Larry did a noble thing to preserve history and a family memory that could have otherwise made its way to a landfill," said Opalenik.
When buildings are typically dedicated, history has shown that it is 'highly unusual' to dedicate a building to a civilian and especially one that was still alive.
James H.R. (Jim) Stumbaugh was born Nov. 21, 1910. He began his civil service career in 1935 and served 44 years until his retirement soon after the dedication in 1979. He spent 37 of his 44-year career at NAS Pensacola, at one time serving as the deputy civilian disbursing officer.
"The building was dedicated as the Base Supply Building," said Gillespie. "Back in the day, supply was its own command and dad served as the Supply Management Officer - he was the senior civilian on base."
According to Stumbaugh's obituary, the building was named after him because of his career service and because he helped get a Navy contract to build warehouses for the Navy Supply Center. He worked for more than 25 years with the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce serving for several years as the Chairman of the Military Liaison Committee promoting the Pensacola Navy interests in Washington D.C.
Gillespie recalled NFL and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach worked for her father during his Navy career. Staubach served as a supply officer for four years after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1965 and before beginning his NFL career in 1969.
"We used to go watch him play for the NAS Pensacola football team on Saturday nights," said Gillespie. "He would even come to the house and visit."
Stumbaugh passed away Oct. 16, 1991 due to complications of a stroke.
The entire PWD team was happy to find Mrs. Gillespie and return this piece of Naval history to her family.