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Thursday, December 3, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A Hero's Farewell

Seattle Times Staff Reporters

He brought a breath of fresh air to our city, and we haven't recovered from it yet. We are so used to being laid back that his energy winded most of us.' - Rev. Samuel McKinney, pastor emeritus, Mt. Zion Baptist Church

The night belonged to the children John Stanford loved so much.

To children in the choir of T.T. Minor Elementary, whose final song, "I Believe I Can Fly," brought mourners to their feet at a memorial service last night for the inspirational Seattle schools superintendent.

To two Seattle seventh-graders, whose eloquent eulogies caused the audience to erupt in thunderous applause.

And to John Stanford's own grown children, Steven and Scott, who sat close to their mother, Patricia, as a grieving and grateful community opened its heart to them and to their father, who died early Saturday at age 60, eight months after he was diagnosed with leukemia.

"We'd like to thank the whole Seattle community," Steven Stanford told the 2,500 people gathered at the University of Washington's Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Thousands more watched the service live on four local television broadcasts.

"My father was always a dynamic, energetic, passionate, loving person," he said. "But he only became the person that you knew him to be with your love and support. Thank you for helping him realize his dream."

The Stanford family leaves today for Washington, D.C., where Stanford, a retired Army major general, will be buried tomorrow morning with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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