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Former mayor remembered as 'a solid citizen'

January 16, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Friends and colleagues of J. William Stover are remembering him as a public servant who thoroughly considered all his decisions, whether as a Chambersburg business owner, councilman, mayor or district justice.

Stover, who served his hometown in a number of capacities in his lifetime, died Saturday at age 80 from complications associated with Parkinson's disease.

"He was a solid citizen," said John McD. Sharpe Jr., who preceded Stover as mayor of Chambersburg.

While owner of the former Chambersburg Laundry, Stover was a member of Chambersburg's civil service commission from 1960 to 1969 and Borough Council from 1966 to 1969. He was mayor from 1970 until 1980, when he became a local district justice.

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Stover was appointed a senior district justice in 1994.

"He really, really loved government and the law and people," said his son, W. Andrew Stover of Chambersburg.

Friends said Stover did not relish his mayoral duty of breaking Borough Council's ties, but mulled over his decision when called on to do so.

"When you break a tie, it means half the people are not going to like what you say," said Julio Lecuona, who was Chambersburg's borough manager for 20 years, beginning in 1977.

Stover formed a mayor's advisory group of residents and considered its thoughts on a number of matters, according to Lecuona.

"He brought in different people to bat around issues that were of interest to the public," he said.

Stover was instrumental in opening Chambersburg's municipal park and a water treatment plant near Caledonia, Pa., according to his son.

"He was very interested in seeing that whatever it was he was doing was done right," said his son.

Samuel W. Worley, a former councilman who also lived near Stover, said his friend was always alert and serious-minded.

"It was a real delight to work with Mayor Stover over the years," said Worley.

When Stover transitioned from mayor to district justice in 1980, he evaluated each decision with the same conscientious manner shown on council and as mayor, according to Worley.

"When he was on the bench, no favors. He was a right straight-down-the-middle district justice," he said.

"He never, ever hesitated to come out when he was on call. Many, many times he would come out in the middle of the night when he wasn't on call to save the police officers from having to travel to, say, Mercersburg or Waynesboro or another magisterial district. He would voluntarily come in," said John "Jack" Nelson, district attorney in Franklin County, Pa.

Nelson remembers seeing Stover in the mornings as they bought coffee and shared memories. The two often would find themselves laughing.

"He took his job seriously, but he didn't take himself seriously," said Nelson.

Nelson said Stover performed the wedding ceremony for he and his wife, Tracy, 19 years ago.

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