Gene Stafford was a man of many firsts. In 1959 he became the first black police officer in Mount Holly Township. He would go on to have a successful career holding every rank in the department and becoming one of the first black police chiefs in New Jersey in 1973.
Retiring in 1984 after 25 years of service with the Police Department, Stafford then ran for Mount Holly Township Council in 1986. In a crowded field of 11 candidates for 5 seats Stafford would receive the highest number of votes outpacing the next candidate by almost 200 votes. He also carried his slate to victory besting the slate of incumbents 3 to 1 in votes received. When he took office in July 1986 he was selected by his peers to serve as Deputy Mayor then became Mayor in 1987 making him the first black mayor in Mount Holly’s history.
In January 1987 Gene was appointed to the Burlington County Board of Freeholders and sworn in by Governor Tom Kean. In November 1987 he was elected to a full term as Freeholder making him the first African American ever elected to a County office in Burlington County.
Gene was a proud graduate of Rancocas Valley Region High School class of 1953. At RV he played football, basketball and ran track. Gene was a track star and would later be inducted into the Burlington County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Gene was a member of Relief Fire Company #1 in Mount Holly and earned exempt firefighter status with the NJ State Firemen’s Association. Gene also served a term on the Mount Holly Board of Education.
After retiring from the police department Gene served as Director of Security at Memorial Hospital of Burlington County (Virtua Mount Holly).
At the time of his death Gene served as Deacon, Trustee and Business Administrator of the Second Baptist Church in Mount Holly. He was a proud parishioner of the church which his family helped found in 1906.
Gene is survived by his wife Joyce and five siblings; Harold, Warren, Joan, Earl and Carol.