It is with a heavy heart that I write this Obituary for my dearest friend and Life Partner of 56 years, Bernard Parker Stallard. He grew up in a small town on the Kentucky/West Virginia border called Williamson. Bernard was one of twelve children of Walter and Minerva Stallard. His father worked for the Norfolk and Western rail company as a Yard Conductor. The Stallard family was one of love that I was privileged to experience in the years we were together. He graduated high school and was inducted into the Honor Society and from there went to Marshall College for two years. He was not able to continue his education due to the expense involved. During this time he had joined the ROTC in college and was required to commit to 6 months of active duty. After completion he came back to Williamson not knowing which direction to go. Either go to Ohio, where most of the siblings moved for jobs, or ask his father for a ticket to travel on a train across the country to California to “visit” friends from his home state. The trip opened up a whole new world for him and never to return to West Virginia other than to visit with family and friends. He worked as a sales clerk in an upscale department store and, with his personality, was promoted to greater responsibilities. Betty White and her husband Allen Ludden, also Richard Jakel, Lee Marvin, actors of movies and TV, plus other movie and TV personalities were his personal customers. Bernard wanted to do more and was encouraged to apply for a highly classified job with Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, California. He was hired and started working at Edwards AFB in Palmdale, California. Working in one of the large hangers on base he saw two men approaching. One had his ID badge on but the other man didn't have one. It was required to show ID when on the base. When Bernard saw this he walked up to the man and said he couldn't be in the hanger and must get a visitors badge and be escorted in. Colonel Jimmy Stewart (film actor) looked down on Bernard, smiled and said: “your absolutely correct” turned around and proceeded to retrieve the visitor badge. Working at Lockheed during the late 60's and 70's was exciting and highly classified – the Dept was called the Skunk Works where they developed incredible aircraft. Because it is now declassified, I can say what he was working on the SR71 which is the world's fastest plane ever built. An Exciting time in his life! He had an incredible and life threatening experience with this aircraft due to FOD – foreign object damage. Lockheed used “little people” to clean out the FOD in the engines of the SR71. One day he was asked if he could do this job as the “little people” were not available. As Bernard wasn't the least bit concerned he offered to clean the FOD from the plane but under certain conditions. The engineers explained how difficult and dangerous it was and gave detailed instructions before Bernie proceeded with the operation. Because there is very little room he had to squeeze his body through incredible but very small openings. In one place he had to flip his body upside down to enter into another area of the engine to remove FOD. The engineers were astounded but knew if anyone could do the job they could rely on Bernard. Our lives became one in 1966 when we were both invited to an outdoor party in Glendale, California. I saw this man who drew people around him like a magnet. How could a person not be attracted to this man whose personality was so infectious it drew you in and loved him instantly. Thus it began our life together for 56 years of devotion to one another. But life turned in 1971 when I was laid off at Lockheed and needed a job. I always loved Colorado so took the chance and moved to Colorado Springs and landed a job with Hewlett Parkard. Bernard sold our home in Newhall, California and moved with me to Colorado. After several jobs in town he also got a job with Hewlett Packard and was there until 1980 when Lockheed called and wanted him back to work on the L1011 passenger airline in Palmdale, California. I, in turn, received a transfer to Santa Rosa, California. We were separated for over a year but managed to fly or travel by train to see each other every month during that time. Finally a transfer was offered to Bernard to work for Lockheed Space and Missiles in Sunnyvale, California. I was able to transfer to Palo Alto, California and settled down in Sunnyvale. When Lockheed offered an early retirement in 1992 Bernard jumped at the chance and retired. Immediately he traveled to Ohio to be with his family and help his mother, who at the time was 92. After I received the “golden handshake” I also retired. We traveled extensively throughout the US (all 50 states), Australia, England, and all of Eastern Europe. In 1998 tragedy struck! Bernard fell from a ladder at our house in the Mountains of Utah. He lost the sight in his left eye and suffered multiple breaks and facial disfigurement. It took five weeks of intensive care and rehabilitation but recovered and continued his life. Never complaining but enjoying the life that was given back to him. As the years continued, we spent our time going to California, either the beach or desert and continued our traveling to see our families in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, West Virginia, N. Carolina, Michigan, and Alaska. Our time together was always centered on Family. Either Bernard's or mine. Our love for each other was because of the love we had from our families. His brothers and sisters are my brothers and sisters and the same for Bernard. My Mother loved him dearly from the day she met him. We were told of the problem with his kidneys in 2018 and by 2020 it had turned into having hemo dialysis three times a week. After six months he was able to do dialysis at home every night by a machine that would remove all the toxins. But, due to multiple issues with his heart and kidneys, his health issues started to multiply. For the last year and a half, his health declined and finally on July 2, 2022 at 5:17 am, he died surrounded by those he dearly loved. He had just turned 86 on May 10, 2022 His grin, that became a smile, his laugh that became infectious and his charm/personality was a joy for all to know and love. He will always be remembered!
If anyone would like to make a contribution as a memorial to Bernard, you can make it to the Kidney Foundation.