Community remembers 'leader'

Catawba County citizens are using words like "leader," "giant" and "go-getter" to remember a community icon who passed away earlier this week.

The Rev. Stanley Louis Stiver Jr., a pastor, community leader and avid collector of crosses died Monday at age 89 in Newton.

Stiver was a pastor for more than 60 years, spending 31 years of his
career at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Claremont.

During his career, Stiver strived to spread his message far beyond St. Luke's walls, displaying an array of public service that earned him awards such as Newton-Conover's Civitan Club "Man of the Year" in 1964, "Claremont Jaycee Man of the Year in 1980", and the Citizens Savings and Loans Newton Citizen Par Excellence award in 2000, among others.

Stiver was also the first recipient to receive the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce Glen Ray Boyd Award For Outstanding Citizenship in 1990.

Former Claremont mayor Glenn Morrison said Stiver's message reached far beyond the walls of St. Mark's.

"The accomplishments he made triggered a rippling affect in the community," Morrison said. "He knew how to influence people and had a tremendous mind."

Morrison, who knew Stiver for more than 20 years, noted that the pastor was the president of the Catawba and Eastern Catawba chamber of commerce during his career, an "unusual" feat for a reverend.

Stiver's two sons, David and John, agreed Thursday that the community was their father's ministry.

Despite meeting thousands of people during his lifetime, John said his father always remembered the face, name and interesting fact about someone he would meet. John said his father would go around a table of 150 people and introduce each person individually.

"He could really focus on the person he was talking to and make them feel like he was totally involved," David said.

Stiver's accomplishments, which include securing Toll Free Extended Telephone Service in eastern Catawba County and promoting several successful blood drives, were made possible the pastor's never-ending drive, his sons said.

"There were very few projects he started that didn't get completed," John said.

Morrison agreed with John and David, describing Stiver as a "go-getter."

"He did more for the city of Claremont than any other official ever elected, including me," Morrison said. "People would do things for him that they wouldn't do for others."

Sidney Halma, retired director of the Catawba County Historical Association, said Stiver was "a pastor who not only pastored to his flock, but to the community, as well."

In addition to reiterating the pastor's community focus, Halma said he remembers Stiver as an "avid" cross collector.

"Every time he would go on a trip or to somewhere new, he would bring back a cross," Halma said.

David said the crosses were one is his father's best ways to "carry his message to other people."

A funeral service for Stiver is Friday at 4 p.m. at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Claremont. Memorial contributions can also be made to St. Mark's at PO Box 550, Claremont, NC 28610.