G. David ‘Buzz’ Stifel passed away peacefully on May 20, 2023 surrounded by his family, at home on his farm Purton, in Gloucester Virginia. He was 96, only eight days shy of his 97th birthday. He was preceded in death by his parents, Arnold G. Stifel and Mildred E. Orthwein of St. Louis, Mo., his sister, Audrey E. Stifel Heckman, also of St. Louis and his nephew, Guy C. Heckman of Florida.
Buzz was born on May 28, 1926, in St. Louis. He attended St. Louis Country Day School and graduated from the Asheville School for Boys in 1944, where his father had graduated in 1911. He entered Yale University in the fall of 1944. While a freshman at Yale he joined the U.S. Navy V5 & V12 Officer Pre-Flight Programs. As a “V12-er” he started his cadet flight training, for carrier-based fighters, in Corpus Christi and Pensacola. He flew the classic Navy trainer, a Boeing Stearman, and then the T-6 SNJs. He transferred to the West Coast to prepare for the Pacific Theater, where he flew the F6F Hellcat. By the end of WW II, he was flying F4U Vought Corsairs. He was stationed on several aircraft carriers including the USS Monterey, USS Leyte, USS Coral Sea, and USS Antietam. He also flew the F8F Bearcat after the war. He was one of the last Navy pilots to get numbered wings; his father was in the first 100 numbered pilots to get his Navy wings at the end of WW1.
During his final V12 training in San Francisco he played “wartime football,” a military league which had the best college and professional players in the country. He played as a running back, receiver, and defensive back. Most of his USN flight team, the St. Mary’s Air Devils, became the San Francisco 49ers first team in 1946. At that time, he was still a cadet and the only non-officer on the Air Devils team, and he fondly remembered the team captain, the great Frankie Albert, always calling him “hey cadet” in the huddles.
After the War, he flew for startup California Eastern Airways, a pioneering long-haul airfreight airline. His route was San Francisco to Tokyo which took over 40 hours with two fueling stops at Honolulu and Wake Island, in a DC 4. He graduated from Yale in 1950, delayed by the war, and he also earned a degree in 1950 from Washington University.
He was recalled for the Korean War, where he spent time on submarines, flew PBY Catalina sub-hunters, and was stationed as an Air Intelligence Officer in Europe. Later he was assigned to Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. until the early 1960s.
Buzz and his wife Ann Este Fisher (Eccleston, Md.) were married in 1961. They had a farm in Louisiana, Mo., for a few years before moving to Purton, a farm in Gloucester, where they lived for the rest of his life. Buzz was in investment banking, an ardent tennis player into his 80s, and he loved woodworking and made beautiful furniture. He spent years field trialing with Labrador retrievers, and he enjoyed outdoor activities including running the farm.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ann and by his three children, David F. Stifel, Gloucester, A. Este Stifel, Sacramento, and Arnold G. Stifel II (Adair B. Bonsal) and granddaughter, Adair Este Stifel (Glyndon). Buzz is also survived by his niece, Lisa Heckman Hughes, Florida, and three great-nephews, Drew, James, and Henry Heckman and their children.
The family would like to thank Right at Home caregivers for their service and dedication. We thank the Riverside Hospice nurses and aides who were all so very compassionate and caring. In lieu of flowers, we would suggest a donation to Gloucester- Mathews Humane Society or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
There will be a private family service at St. Thomas’s Church in Owings Mills, Md.
Andrews Funeral Home, Gloucester, is in charge of arrangements.