St. Francis Alumnus Dies in Iraq Accident

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Joseph Stifter
Joseph Stifter

Joseph Stifter, a U.S. Army soldier who graduated from St. Francis High School, died Jan. 28 in Anbar province in Iraq from injuries he suffered when the armored Humvee he was in was involved in a rollover accident.
Educators and friends recently joined members of the community in gathering at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church for a memorial service, which Stifter’s father, Fred Stifter, described in an email as “emotional and dignified.”
Joseph Stifter, 30, was a Glendale resident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, which is part of the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He joined the Army in May 2011 and deployed in October to Iraq, where he was a field artillery cannon crew member.
“Sgt. Stifter was an exceptional soldier and leader in our brigade,” Col. Miles Brown, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of a member of the ‘Dagger’ family. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Dagger brigade go to his family and friends during this difficult time. His memory will forever remain with those who served with him.”
Former St. Francis classmate Patrick Donovan, now an English teacher at the school, remembers Stifter well. They met before their freshman year during summertime football practice.
“He was one of the first guys I got to know at St. Francis, and he was always just a warm and caring individual,” Donovan said. “Just one of those people who anybody could go up and talk to, and he was always somebody who had your back and was going to do the right thing.
“Ultimately, his service is a testament to him wanting to do the right thing. His service for our country fit his character and person; he wasn’t the first person I would’ve pegged for it, but it didn’t surprise me at all. He was one of those people who always tried to do the right thing.”
Stifter is survived by his wife, Melissa, their 2-year-old daughter, Olivia, his parents, Regina and Fred, and his brother, John, and sister, Ellen.
Joseph Stifter was born in Los Angeles and attended Glenoaks Elementary School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Glendale before enrolling at St. Francis. He was a Cub Scout in Den 125, a Boy Scout in Troop 125 and earned Eagle Scout in 2003. He earned the Audio Recording Engineer Certificate from Los Angeles Recording School in 2008 before joining the Army.
Father Tony Marti, president at St. Francis, hadn’t yet arrived at the school when Stifter attended, but he said he was moved by the outpouring of sympathy he saw at the memorial service.
“There was great support from the community,” Marti said. “And people are aware that he was a graduate of St. Francis, so I feel very good about the support we gave him.”
Stifter’s military awards include three Army Commendation Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Combat Action Badge.

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