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Clarence Garner Stairs


Clarence and Nora Stairs, 1935

Clarence Garner Stairs was born on Nov. 28, 1886 in Mount Pleasant, East Huntington Township, Westmoreland County, PA, the son of Lehman G. and Mattie (Minerd) Stairs

At the age of 13, in 1900, the federal census Clarence him living at home with his parents and employed as a carrying boy at a local glass factory.

Clarence married Nora Violet Martz (March 27, 1890-1970), the daughter of George and Mary (Troutman) Martz of Glencoe, Somerset County, PA.

They produced six children -- Vernon Eugene Stairs, Harold Eldon Stairs, Howard Milton Stairs, Violet Marie Foreman, Hazel Irene Rahme and Thelma Jean Appleby.

The Stairses resided in Mount Pleasant and Greensburg, Westmoreland County. When the 1920 and 1930 federal census enumerations were made, their home was in Greensburg, with Clarence employed as a salesman for a wholesale meat packing company.

Clarence was a member of both the United Commercial Travelers and the Woodmen of the World.

In about 1946, Clarence retired, and the couple made the decision to relocate to a warmer climate. They moved to Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, where they joined the Tampa Evangelical United Brethren Church. Circa 1951, their address was 106 West Chelsea in Tampa.

Tampa's pleasant skyline, from Davis Island, in the years before skyscrapers



L-R: Nora, (?) and Thelma

In the summer of 1951, Clarence and Nora escaped the Florida heat and returned to Mount Pleasant to visit family and friends. On July 21, they spent time at the home of the Frank L. Foreman family in Greensburg and that evening went to see their daughter, Violet Foreman, at White Hill near Youngwood, Westmoreland County. That evening, shortly before midnight, Clarence died suddenly of a heart attack at the Foremans' home.

His remains were placed into repose in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. An obituary was printed in the Tampa Times, which noted that his survivors included 10 grandchildren.

Nora outlived Clarence by nearly two decades and appears to have returned to her home region of southwestern Pennsylvania.

She died in Mount Pleasant or in Pittsburgh on May 11, 1970. A death notice in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that she was survived by 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.


~ Son Harold Eldon Stairs ~

Son Harold Eldon Stairs (1912-1973) was born on Nov. 18, 1912 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

In 1935, Harold married Sarah M. Fischer (Sept. 21, 1913- ? ).

They moved in Tampa in 1949. In January 1954, he provided a musical program at the wedding of his sister Thelma Jean to Byron Appleby in Tampa.

Their children were Harold Eldon Stairs Jr., Vernon Charles Stairs, Esther Jean Berger and Terrell Thomas Stairs.

Harold was a member of the Keystone United Methodist Church and the Hillsborough lodge of the Masons. Their address in 1958 was 201 West Ida Street in Tampa.

Sadly, Harold died at the age of 60 on Oct. 12, , 1973. Funeral services were held in the family church and led by Rev. John T. Adams Jr., with interment following in Keystone Cemetery. The Tampa Tribune printed an obituary.

Son Harold Eldon Stairs Jr. (1938- ? ) was born on Feb. 22,1938 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County. On Aug. 15, 1958, he was united in wedlock with Coraleen Vernelia Banks (Dec. 8, 1939- ? ), daughter of Capt. and Mrs. W.C. Banks of Key West and Tampa. Rev. Dr. John S. Wimbash officiated at the wedding ceremony held in Seminole Heights Baptist Church. They lived in Plantation, FL in 1973 and were the parents of Richard Harold Stairs.

  • Grandson Richard Harold Stairs (1965- ? ) was born on Jan. 28, 1965.

Son Vernon Charles Stairs Sr. (1941-2016) was born on Aug. 26, 1941 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County. He resided in Lutz, FL. In 1960, he wedded Mary Barbara Jean Norris ( ? - ? ), daughter of Floyd and Jacqueling (Thompson) Norris and a native of El Centro, CA. The couple's union lasted for 56 years until the separation of death. They met at WEDU-TV in Tampa in 1959, where he was employed as a cameraman and she as a secretary. Their first date was a Sadie Hawkins Day picnic at her church. They went on to have offspring Carole Ann Baskin and Vernon Charles Stairs Jr. For two decades, Vernon Sr. demonstrated his passion for feline animals through his work with Big Cat Rescue, "transforming" it, said the Tampa Bay Times, "into a beautiful home for hundreds of rescued lions, tigers and other captive wild cats." Barbara also was a volunteer with Big Cat Rescue, working in the area of recordkeeping and was forced to deal with a former worker's embezzlement of funds. Vernon died in Tampa on his 75th birthday on Aug. 26, 2016.

  • Granddaughter Carole Ann Stairs (1961- ? ) was born on June 6, 1961. She wedded Howard Baskin ( ? - ? ).
  • Grandson Vernon Charles "Chuck" Stairs Jr. (1967- ? ) was born on May 25, 1967. He married Trundy ( ? - ? ).

Daughter Esther Jean Stairs (1945- ? ) was born on Aug. 20, 1945 in Hannastown, Westmoreland County. She wedded Alan Henry Burger (Sept. 18, 1939- ? ). Their two children were Richard Harry Burger and Cynthia Elaine Burger. They dwelled in 1973 in Hudson, FL.

  • Grandson Richard Harry Burger (1958- ? ) was born on March 15, 1958.
  • Granddaughter Cynthia Elaine Burger (1962- ? ) was born on May 28, 1962.

Son Terrell Thomas Stairs (1949- ? ) was born on May 30, 1949 in Tampa. He made his home in Tampa in 1973.


~ Son Howard Milton Stairs ~

Son Howard Milton Stairs (1914-1952) was born on Oct. 17 or 27, 1914 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

He did not follow his parents to Florida but remained in the Greensburg area, with an address of 309 Oakland Avenue.

Howard married Melva Fern Brocious (Jan. 21, 1910-2003), daughter of James Floyd and Daisy (Hellien) Brocious of South Connellsville.

They were the parents of an only son, Milton Clair Stairs.

Howard was a salesman for Armour Meat Packing Company, and was treasurer of the Otterbein Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1948, they are known to have traveled to Tampa to spend the Christmas holidays with his parents.

Tragically, at the age of 37, Howard suffered a heart attack and died seven hours later, in Westmoreland Hospital, on Sept. 19, 1952. Interment was in Green Ridge Memorial Park in Pennsville north of Connellsville. Rev. J. Byron Bishop officiated at the funeral, with an obituary appearing in the Connellsville Daily Courier.

Melva earned a living as a licensed practical nurse for 16 years in Westmoreland Regional Hospital and retired in January 1975. She maintained her membership in the Otterbein church. Later in life, in 1980, she relocated to North Carolina to be near her son in the community of Concord. She died in Concord at the Northeast Medical Center at the age of 92 on Jan. 16, 2003. Her remains were returned to Connellsville for burial in Green Ridge Memorial Park in Pennsville, with Rev. Thomas Strandburg preaching the funeral sermon. An obituary appeared in the Greensburg Tribune-Review.

Son Milton Clair Stairs (1942-2017) was born on July 30, 1942. He received a bachelor's degree in mechical engineering from Penn State University. He was hired by IBM and spent three decades with the company, with assignments in Endicott, NY and in the company's headquarters in Charlotte, NC. He married Betty (Gaskey) Hunsucker ( ? -2003). She brought five offspring to the union, among them Barbara Small, Doris Ann Dry and Jonna Wilson. Circa 2003, their home was in Concord, NC, at the address of 1155 Rembrandt Drive. They belonged to the Kerr Memorial Baptist Church. Sadly, Betty passed away on June 15, 2003 at NorthEast Medical Center. An obituary was published in the Charlotte Observer. Milton married again to Doris (Sheffield) Freeze ( ? - ? ). He died on March 3, 2017 at the age of 73. Rev. Darrell Brumfield officiated at the funeral service held in the family church, with interment following in West Concord Cemetery.


~ Daughter Violet Marie (Stairs) Foreman Wasson ~

Daughter Violet Marie Stairs (1919-1984) was born on Aug. 19 or 29, 1919 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

Her first husband was Leslie B. Foreman (July 15, 1914- ? ).

They produced an only daughter, Carole Frances Baird.

The family did not move to Florida with her parents and siblings. Circa 1952, the Foremans resided in White Hill near Youngwood, Westmoreland County.

Later, by 1970, Violet wedded (?) Wasson. They resided in Pittsburgh.

Sadly, Violet died without warning on Nov. 20, 1984. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette printed a death notice.

Daughter Carole Frances Foreman (1941- ? ) was born on Valentine's Day 1941. She married Ronald Lee Baird (Aug. 1940- ? ), of Greensburg. The couple lived in Latrobe and were the parents of Gregory Baird and Jay Baird.

  • Grandson Gregory Baird (1960- ? ) was born on Oct. 2, 1960.
  • Grandson Jay Baird (1963- ? ) was born on June 27, 1963.


~ Son Vernon Eugene Stairs ~


Vernon and Bertha Stairs

Son Vernon Eugene Stairs (1921-2003) was born on Sept. 27, 1921 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

He relocated to Florida as a young man and settled in or around Okeechobee, Okeechobee County.

When he was 19 years of age, on Feb. 28, 1941, Vernon married Bertha Mae Stewart (Nov. 3, 1920-1987), a native of Inverness, FL. Their nuptials were held in Okeechobee.

They produced three offspring -- Paul Stewart Stairs, Donald Eugene Stairs and Diana Mae Miller Carter.

During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Force.

Circa 1945-1948, they are believed to have dwelled in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, FL, where their two sons were born. In 1951-1996, they made a home in Okeechobee.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune once referred to Vernon as an "entrepreneur." Circa 1951, he was authorized to purchase equipment and to install radio technology to enable Okeechobee City police patrol cars to communicate with the Florida Highway Patrol. He is believed to have been a member of the Masons lodge and an officer in the Owen A. Coile chapter of the Order of DeMolay.

Bertha Mae passed away on March 3, 1987 at the age of 66. Her remains were lowered into repose in Oakside Cemetery in Zephyrhills.

Vernon survived his bride by 14 years. During that time, he resided in Moore Haven, Glades County, FL before relocating to the town of Nokomis in about 1998. He attended the First Baptist Church of Nokomis. He remained close with a former daughter-in-law, Harriet Stairs.

He died in Nokomis at the age of 81 on June 16, 2003.

Son Paul Stewart Stairs (1945- ? ) was born on Dec. 16, 1945 in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, FL. At the age of 19, on June 18, 1965, he was joined in holy wedlock with Harriet Louise Reinheimer (April 26, 1946-2015) in nuptials held at Lake Carroll Baptist Church. The couple produced two sons -- Paul Stewart "Skip" Stairs Jr. and Todd Jeffrey Stairs. Vernon served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, undergoing nine weeks of basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Station. After two decades of marriage, the couple divorced in Tampa in September 1985. Paul later dwelled in Moore Haven, Glades County and Harriet in Lutz, Hillsborough County, FL. In the early 2000s, Harriet provided significantly to this website by sharing information and images. Harriet passed away at the age of 69 on May 15, 2015. In an obituary, the Tampa Bay Times said that her "love for others was abundant and her heart for animals was well known. A true friend to everyone she met, [she] will be well missed in our daily lives."

  • Grandson Paul Stewart "Skip" Stairs Jr. (1967- ? ) was born in 1967 in Tampa. He has been married twice. His first spouse, whom he wedded in 1992, was Margaret Denise Armstrong (1964- ? ). Their children were Sierra Dawn Stairs and Sean Paul Stairs. On June 10, 1996, in Tampa, he was joined in matrimony with his second bride, Laura Lynn Garcia (1964- ? ). Paul and Laura produced two children of their own, Colton Tyler Stairs and Tanner Quade Stairs.
  • Grandson Todd Jeffrey Stairs (1969- ? ) was born in 1969 in Tampa. He is the father of Katherine Nicole Stairs.

Son Donald Eugene Stairs (1948- ? ) was born on April 6, 1948 in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County. He was united in matrimony with Linda Jeannette Stone ( ? - ? ), a native of Enigma, Tift County, GA. Their children are Richard Bernard Stairs, Stephen Paul Stairs, Lisa Renee Stairs and Donna Jean Stairs. They resided in Zephyrhills, Pasco County, FL in 2003.

  • Grandson Richard Bernard Stairs (1966- ? ) was born in 1966. He married Jacqueline Marie Bradshaw.
  • Grandson Stephen Paul Stairs (1968- ? ) was born in 1968.
  • Granddaughter Lisa Renee Stairs (1971- ? ) was born in 1971,
  • Granddaughter Donna Jean Stairs (1980- ? ) was born in 1980.

Daughter Diana Stairs (1954- ? ) was born in 1954 in Okeechobee. Her first husband was Bruce Wayne Miller (1954- ? ). They produced two daughters -- Rhonda Mae Miller and Christina Rae Miller. Later, Diana married (?) Carter. Her home in 2003 was in Zephyrhills, Pasco County, FL.

  • Granddaughter Rhonda Mae Miller (1971- ? ) was born in 1971.
  • Granddaughter Christina Rae Miller (1980- ? ) was born in 1980.


~ Daughter Hazel Irene (Stairs) Rahme ~

Daughter Hazel Irene Stairs (1925-1996) was born on Jan. 21, 1925 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

She relocated to Tampa, FL in about 1941 and remained for the next half-century.

At the age of 21, in 1946, Hazel wedded Cecil Edward Rahme (March 14, 1924-2005), a native of Ocala, Marion County, FL.

Their offspring were David Eric Rahme, Roger Edward Rahme, Marilyn Diane Sass, Janet Marie Meier and Rebeccah "Becky" Raybuck.

They were members of Crystal Springs Baptist Church. Cecil was employed in Tampa by Continental Can Company and spent 46 years with the firm.

Hazel passed away at the age of 71 in Brandon, FL on May 29, 1996. An obituary was printed in the Tampa Tribune, stating that she was survived by 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

The grieving Cecil retired the same year, in 1996, and moved back to Ocala. He passed away there at the age of 80 on April 25, 2005. An obituary in the Tampa Bay Times said the he was survived by 21 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren and that burial was in the Garden of Memories in Tampa.

Son David Eric Rahme (1945- ? ) was born on Feb. 13, 1945. He dwelled in Jacksonville, FL in 1996 and in Silver Springs, FL in 2005.

Son Roger Edward Rahme (1949- ? ) was born on July 8, 1949. He lived in Tampa in 1996.

Daughter Marilyn Diane Rahme (1952- ? ) was born on Sept. 26, 1952. She married (?) Sass. Her home was in Tampa in 1996.

Daughter Janet Marie Rahme (1956- ? ) was born on July 29, 1956. She wedded (?) Meier. She resided in the mid-1990s-2005 in Jacksonville.

Daughter Rebeccah "Becky" Rahme was united in matrimony with (?) Raybuck. She lived in Jacksonville in 1996 and in Atlantic Beach, AL in 2005.


~ Daughter Thelma Jean (Stairs) Appleby ~


Thelma with her parents


Daughter Thelma Jean Stairs (1927-1958) was born on July 20, 1927 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.

When she was 19 years of age, in 1946, she relocated to Tampa. She was employed in Tampa as a payroll clerk with Tamiami Trail Tours.

On Jan. 22, 1954, when she was 26 years of age, she was joined in marriage with 30-year-old World War II veteran Byron Appleby (March 12, 1923-2006), the son of Byron Appleby of Columbus, GA. Their nuptials were held at the First Evangelical United Brethren Church, with Rev. George B. Wetherbee officiating. At the time of marriage, Byron worked for Peninsular Telephone Company. News of the engagement, along with Thelma's photo, were printed in the Tampa Times.

During the war, Byron had served as a sergeant with the U.S. Army Engineers.

Their only son was Byron Steven "Steve" Appleby, born in 1956.

Circa 1958, the Applebys lived at 7504 Ola Avenue in Tampa. Thelma was a member of First A.R. Presbyterian Church, where she taught kindergarten and sang in the choir.

Tragedy shook the young family when Thelma was killed in an automobile accident near Mulberry, FL on Sept. 20, 1958. Funeral services were held in the family church. Her grieving mother and siblings published a Card of Thanks in the Tampa Tribune "to all our friends and neighbors for their cards, memorials and other expressions of sympathy at the time of our recent bereavement...."

Byron lived for another nearly half-century. He married again to Barbara (Carter) Gratz ( ? - ? ) in about 1959, and their union lasted for 47 years. They produced three children, David Appleby, Joel Appleby and Marie Wright. Sadness enveloped the family in 1986 at the death of Byron's son from the first marriage, Steve Appleby.

Byron spent 33 years working for GTE until retirement. In 1973, he joined the Gideons and was a member of the Alafia Baptist Church.

Their home in 2006 was in Lithia, a suburb of Tampa. Byron died at the age of 83 on Nov. 8, 2006. Rev. Erle MeMichen officiated at the funeral service, with burial in Hurrah Cemetery. The Tampa Bay Times published an obituary.

Son Byron Steve Appleby (1957-1986) was born on May 24, 1956. He was only two years old when his mother died. At the age of 21, he was employed as a theatre manager in Wauchula, FL and was arrested for an alleged assault on a teenage boy. Also in the 1970s, he was involved with the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. The Ranches is a residential care facility for troubled youth, with a mission of helping them face the future with a sense of direction, ability and hope, so they may turn their lives around to become productive and responsible adults. Byron later relocated to Kern County, CA. Sadly, he died in Kern at the age of 29 on May 13, 1986. Reported the Tampa Tribune, "The cause of death was unavailable."


Copyright © 2001-2002, 2005, 2010, 2018 Mark A. Miner
The late Harriet Louise (Reinheimer) Stairs graciously shared valuable information and photographs for this biography.