John Daniel Stahl

New River Valley, Virginia


John Daniel (JD) Stahl, 58, of Blacksburg, Va., passed away July 15, 2010. He is preceded in death by his father, Omar B. Stahl and mother, Lois Kraybill Stahl. Survivors include his wife, Sarah J. Windes; sons, Daniel and Hans; sister, Rachel Kraybill Stahl and Dale Walton, of Lancaster, Pa.; nieces, Emily Windes, Amanda Windes, of Kingsport, Tenn. and Clare Tendian, of Chicago, Ill; nephews, Peter Windes and Andrew Windes, Kingsport, Tenn., Eric Tendian, of Chicago, Ill; brothers-in-law, Larry Windes, married to Lois Windes, of Kingsport, Tenn. and Sonny Tendian, of Chicago, Ill. JD spent most of his growing-up years in Luxembourg and Germany, the child of Mennonite missionary parents. This childhood identity gave him a perspective which bridged both European and American culture. At age 15, he came to the States and lived with the family of Simon and Mary Jean Kraybill who became, and remain, a second family to him. For the past 10 years, JD lived with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, weathering many difficulties with grace, courage, resilience, and a sense of the preciousness of each moment.
A Rachel Carson quote he used as his e-mail signature for years reads, "Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter."

JD had a large family of relatives and friends, to whom he was uncommonly loyal. He loved books, film, and keeping multi-cultural connections. He enjoyed singing in his deep bass voice, listening to music, and being deeply involved with the lives of his two sons. JD graduated from Goshen College with a BA in German/English in 1973. He earned a Master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1976), and a PhD from the University of Connecticut (1982), and studied for a year at the Universities of Marburg and Munich in Germany. His calling and passion was teaching and literature. In 1982, JD came to Virginia Tech as a Professor of English. He also served as Visiting Professor in the Hollins University summer Children's Literature MA Program since its founding in 1992. He won numerous teaching awards, including the 2008 Virginia Tech William E. Wine Award for excellence in teaching. He co-edited "Crosscurrents of Children's Literature: Texts and Criticism" (2006), and authored "Mark Twain, Culture and Gender: Envisioning America through Europe" (1994). He served as President of the Children's Literature Association from 1999 to 2000, founded the active children's literature faculty study group at Virginia Tech in the early 1980s, and served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the VT Department of English for two years. He was an active member of Blacksburg Presbyterian Church and a Friend at Blacksburg Quaker Meeting, serving as its Clerk for several years.
A memorial service will be held 3 p.m. Monday, July 19, 2010 at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Dr. Catherine Taylor officiating. At JD's request, his remains have been donated to science for research.

Our family wishes to express profound gratefulness, on JD's behalf, to Dr. Harry McCoy, whose medical expertise and deep compassion helped JD through many years of "health," despite his illness. A huge thank you also to the nurses at Blue Ridge Cancer Care who served JD with kindness and unpretentious skill, to the understanding and responsive nurses at Montgomery Regional Hospital, to his invaluable counselor, and to the members of Blacksburg Presbyterian Church and the VT English Department for their untiring and unfailing support. JD requested that, in lieu of flowers, any memorials be given to the English Department at Goshen College, 1700 South Main Street, Goshen, Indiana 46526.

This obituary was originally published in the Roanoke Times.

Guest Book

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Stahl's enthusiasm for the Stith Thompson's Folklore Motif Index is needed today to dice and slice the motifs won in the media by the old Marionette programming that Mengele of all people turned into Monarch Programming. So much was possible, right or wrong. good or bad, from what Professor Rogan Taylor gleaned from Mircea Eliade's life's work here in England, all a derivation Stahl must have forseen but lacked in translation.

J. D. Stahl was a man of profound impact and friendships. Several times during my college years he provided guiding contexts and advice. Memories of certain moments shared with him are as sharp to me now as if they had happened only yesterday.

I was fortunate to have taken classes with Dr. Stahl and am grateful to him for his insight. He will be missed.

I did not get to take J.D.'s classes, but I heard wonderful things and was moved by his readings in the Hollins Room. He will be missed.

Dr. Stahl was one of my favorite professors at Virginia Tech. I was just sharing with a colleague who recent went back for his PhD in English the insightful analysis Dr. Stahl laid out for us in World Literature in his unmistakeably unique reading voice that was quite, yet commanded attention. I often joked - half serious - that if and when I write a book, I must get Dr. Stahl to read for the audio version. I may never get my wish, but nonetheless, his memory will live on.

We first met JD when he attended Uli's NEH seminar here in Princeton. We remember him as a kind, generous, and gentle man. Uli was particularly delighted to have someone in the group whose knowledge of German fairy tales and German literature was so deep and extensive. In the many years that passed since then, JD and Uli continued to meet at sundry conferences. JD's contributions to the field of children's literature have already had and will continue to have a profound impact. We shall miss...

I met JD at a New Year's Eve party in the early '80's when I was suffering from moving from Southern Africa where I had taught to my native USA. Without fuss or pretension, he befriended me.

I always appreciated his good-heart and acumen in things literary. He was one person who could drive me to a dictionary. I still recall some words he used--peripatetic, laggardly, magnanimity, poltroon.

Also he had remarkable breadth in music tastes. Once, I said that I had heard...

My deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of this amazing man.

J.D. was a gentleman -- he was unfailingly kind, patient helpful, sympathetic, encouraging -- and he was a true scholar/teacher. His classes were wonderful because we all wanted to be like him, so we were stellar. He elicited our best. I feel a great loss, like I have lost a primary cheerleader and yet our relationship was transient. My heart goes out to those closest to him, those he dearly loved. Sarah, Daniel, Hans, and Rachel, I pray for comfort and for wisdom in the challenging days...