World War II veteran, long-time Prescott Valley resident Keith Staker dies
PRESCOTT VALLEY - William Keith Staker, a World War II machinist mate and 30-year resident who became active in veterans organizations, died from complications of pneumonia Saturday, his widow, Carm, said.
Mr. Staker died Saturday at the age of 85 in the Prescott Valley Samaritan Care Center.
He had emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other ailments, and used a respirator for about eight years, Mrs. Staker said. The Stakers moved to Prescott Valley a year after the town incorporated in 1978, and Carm served on the Town Council and as mayor during the 1980s.
"He was a wonderful man," she said. "He loved unconditionally. He was very devoted to his family."
Mrs. Staker chairs the Prescott Valley Military Service Monument Committee, which has been raising money to establish a monument on the grounds of the Prescott Valley Civic Center. The committee plans a groundbreaking Nov. 11 to coincide with Veterans Day.
Committee members praised her husband.
"He was probably one of the most dedicated guys you ever want to know concerning the American Legion and the support of veterans," said Jack Messersmith, committee treasurer and a Navy veteran. "He has always been there for the vets."
Mayor Harvey Skoog, who has known the Stakers since the 1980s, praised Mr. Staker.
"First of all, I think Keith Staker was a very honorable citizen," Skoog said. "He served our country, and continued to serve. Plus, he was a real good man. I think the world of both him and Carm."
Mr. Staker served about two years in the military, Carm said. He served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater aboard the minesweeper USS Shelter during World War II.
Keith Staker was born Dec. 3, 1923, in Woodward, Iowa, graduated from Woodward High School in 1941 and went to work on his family's farm. He returned to the farm after the war, and married the former Carmelite Bice Dec. 28, 1947. The Stakers raised three children, Sandra Sue, Julia Ann and Jay William, and have four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
He was active with the Woodward United Methodist Church, served as a director on the Rural Electric Cooperative and the Soil Service Conservation Board, and belonged to the American Legion.
The Stakers moved to Prescott Valley after he retired. He became a charter member of Gary Streeter Legion Post 108, where he held many positions and served as commander. He also was chaplain of the Department of Arizona American Legion and Chef de Gare of Voiture 888 of the 40/8 and was a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10227 in Prescott Valley.
The Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame inducted him Oct. 26, 2007.
Mr. Staker also volunteered for 17.5 years with Yavapai Regional Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs, both in Prescott, for 16 years.