April 12, 1924 - May 18, 2020
Watson Woodrow Stanley, 96, Purple Heart Recipient and a resident of Howell, MI passed from this life Monday, May 18 of natural causes. Watson was preceded in death by his wife Bette Ann Eckert (deceased in 1997) and will be sorely missed by his wife Elizabeth (daughter Alicia). He was the loving father of 3 children, William (Barb) Stanley, Robert (Lana Kenny) Stanley and Judy (Jim) Cash. Watson cherished his 10 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. He was the brother of Mae (Max) Stevens and Patricia (David) O’Donnell.
Born in Detroit in 1924 to William Benjamin Stanley and Cora Watson Stanley, he made the most of every minute of his eventful life. He grew up during the great depression selling newspapers and raising chickens to raise money for the family. At age 18 he joined the Army and proudly served his country fighting courageously as a Master Sargent Tank Commander in charge of 25 men, mostly behind enemy lines in Patton’s 3rd Army.
From snapping every tendon is his left leg at the age of 12, to getting shot in Europe on May 8, 1945, V-E Day and the last day of World War II, he never let diversity stand in his way, and he had the uncanny knack of turning every setback into a triumph. He was an avid, and most accomplished storyteller, and would keep his kids and grandkids spellbound by the hour when enticed to let his vivid imagination and almost photographic memory have the full sway of his narrative prowess. A graduate of the Detroit Institute of Technology after the war, he married Bette Ann Eckert of Royal Oak and fathered three children, all of whom absolutely adored him. He started his own business, Darling Bolt in Warren Michigan, in 1958, and when that sold to a partner, began Stanley Industries in 1967. Both businesses still exist to this day. He was that rare breed that only saw the good in everybody and was therefore beloved by everyone who met him. He had the best laugh and best hugs for anyone and everyone.
Watson was an active member of Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Brighton, MI and was dedicated to bible study and worshiping, and would sing his praises in worship with gusto!
Watson’s final resting place will be at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, and the family will plan a Celebration of Life for Watson in late summer.
Memorials can be made to:
Friends and Family Remember Mr. Stanley
Good bye Dad, I can almost hear you singing with the Angels around the Throne tonight. Shepherd of the Lakes, you know what I mean! Love you, I will miss your hugs and kisses, smiles, and stories and your amazing love 💕
All My Love Forever: Judy
Dad was a great storyteller; there are two stories that I wrote down upon hearing them Big Heist & Saginaw Trip*. You will not want to use them I'm sure; however, this is one of the main ways I will remember my Dad. Those stories show a lot about the kind of person he was, his positive attitude, and his ability to get people to like him and work with him. He was also a font of aphorisms that just seemed to spontaneously pop out. Some were planned, like when we would say, "if I told you once, I told you a million times....I don't exaggerate!" But some not. For example, when I turned 60 and was freaking out, I told him about my negative feelings about aging, and he said: "You know son, there are some good things about getting older. Not many though!" Words of wisdom, I have always felt.
With Love: Will Stanley
* Stories Big Heist & Saginaw Trip are on Stanley’s website for you all to enjoy!
Shepard Of The Lakes will never seem the same when I walk in and can't hear him singing! He was the best and will be dearly missed! Love and prayers to all of you! ♥️🙏♥️
What an amazing man he was and what an incredible life he led! He touched all who knew him, and he will be dearly missed! Loving tribute to him! What a beautiful legacy he leaves behind in all of you! ❤️❤️❤️
With Love: Cathy
Great man, he will be missed. Thinking of you all! Loved his singing in church 🥰
With Sympathy: Jan
It is hard to put into words the impact that my Grandpa Stanley has had on me and my life. He always said to me, “you and me, we’ve been best buddies ever since you were just a little one.” It was true. But it was also true for everyone he met. You felt so special when he would greet you with a huge hug and tell you a story. He had a way of making everyone feel joy, for his was overflowing.
I’ll miss him terribly but am grateful to have the peace that he is in the best place now.
With Heartfelt Sympathy: Jason
He was a great man and will be forever missed. He will be with your mom again and they will watch over you always. Love and prayers to you all. ❤❤🙏🙏
He touched everyone he met. Thank you for sharing him with us and for telling his story....even though we all know his story is much bigger than any book written. I loved his stories, his smile and his laugh. Sending love, prayers and lots of hugs to you all. Keep telling the stories and spreading his joy. He loved you all so much!!!
Sending Prayers: Jennifer
Mr. Stanley was an extremely caring and kind man; he was so generous and always willing to help others. He always had a smile on his face and loved to tell his stories to everyone. There will never be another person quite like Mr. Stanley and his memory will live on in your hearts forever. We hope that these memories will bring you peace, comfort, and healing during this extremely difficult time. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Judy & Jim, Bob, Will and your entire family.
With Deepest Sympathy: Donavon, Michelle, & Family
I got my love of singing from him for sure. His joy in the Lord and in life was truly remarkable. I miss him so much already, but I know heaven just gained a good and faithful servant
So many memories but we just loved his joy of life, faith in God, hugs and smiles. He was a lover of golf, fish fries, yummy pie and his family. He is so missed
My heart hurts today and yet I have such peace in knowing Grandpa is with the Lord Jesus rejoicing in heaven. This verse was how he lived his life. You will be greatly missed Grandpa. 💙✝️
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.” 4:4 Philippians
Love You Grandpa: Kristi
So sorry guys! Loved that man! What an inspiration! Broke the mold when God created that gentleman! Blessings to the family and Stanley Industries!
With Sympathy: Al & Linda
When grandpa Stanley walked into the room you would’ve thought a celebrity had just walked in the way everyone flocked to him! He was such a joy to be around and talk to...well, to be honest he told so many great stories you mainly just listened while he did the talking!
It’s a weird thing to mourn and rejoice at the same time but that is what we are doing. Mourning that he won’t be around anymore but rejoicing that he is home with the Lord!
With Love: Zach
W.W. taught me everything I needed to know about the fastener business. He was like a second father to me and I miss going to lunch with him every day like we used to do. We were so similar in our likes that as we ordered I would tell the waitress, “make that two.” We went on a business trip to Hong Kong with Reynolds Fastener. The guide told us whatever you do, stay close by me; don’t stray off by yourself because it could be dangerous. As we were walking along, some guys on the street asked Dad if he wanted to buy a Rolex watch for $35, and off they went in a flash. I ran after them and we went down an alley and up three flights of stairs into a room that looked like an office. Then one of the walls opened and we went into a back room. I was so nervous that we would not make it out of that room, or that they would take all our money. Ended up we made the purchase and when we got back to the guide, he told us that most people who do that never come back.... but he didn’t know W.W! I sure did love him.
Stories from Watson, retold by Will Stanley
Dale's (Dad’s eventual partner in Darling Bolt) dad had an old, old pickup truck that he was willing to give the boys for their new business. They found an old trailer bed that Dale fixed up with wood planks etc. to make actual functional trailer.
They got a bunch of orders from up north, loaded up the trailer, and Dad headed out on the trip. Before he had even gotten to his first stop, he went over one of those stomach-dropping bumps in the road, right before a steep decline in the road. The truck left the road as he crested the hill, and as it came back down, it and the trailer attached began to vibrate and shake excessively, everything was swaying back and forth across the road. This, in turn, caused all of the items in the trailer (deliveries Dad was to make, and all carefully laid out by customer), to shake out of the truck and onto the road. When he got to the bottom of the hill, and Dad finally got the truck stopped, he got out to see that the entire road and drainage ditches on either side were filled with screws and very little was left in the trailer. Cars coming over the hill were suddenly faced with this mine field of fasteners, which would bounce up and hit their cars as they drove over them.
Dad, probably on the verge of tears, felt like life was coming to an end, and that his entire trip was a waste of time and money (of which they had little), when a farmer pulled up in his tractor and said he had seen the whole thing and could he help? Dad thought quickly and said that if he could get a couple of guys to help him, he thought they might be able to get the stuff gathered up and back in the trailer. The farmer knew of two guys who were unemployed and getting ready to go fishing, who were down at a bar in the little, tiny town there, even though it was early in the morning. He thought if they hurried, they could catch them before they left the bar and headed out fishing.
So, they drove to the village, and, sure enough, the two guys were still there, and more than happy to help him. They spent the entire day gathering fasteners from the road and the roadside, and by 4:00 in the afternoon, every single bolt was back in its box and back on the trailer, although not all organized by customer as before. Dad paid them each ($5 maybe) and went on his way.
It being late, he stopped at the first motel he found, which was brand new with a still unfinished parking lot of just dirt. He spent the night, afraid that he might run out of money on this trip, as he had a certain amount of cash, there being no credit cards yet, and when he returned to the truck and trailer the next morning, they had sunk into the soft dirt of the new parking lot up the axles.
He spied another tractor and asked if he could pull him out, which he did. Then he continued and made his calls, and every single, solitary order was delivered, completely intact...at least as far as Dad knew. He knew the orders by heart and so was able to put them back together completely from the invoices. Best of all, not one customer called to complain that they had been shorted. Thus, the trip that started out as such a disaster ended as a success.
~Story from Watson, retold by Will Stanley
The Big Heist
Dad had hired a guy, named Preston. Preston had a friend named Dave, who Dad had hired as well. One day they got the idea of stealing money from the company. Their methodology was somewhat less than sophisticated. One of Preston's jobs was to deliver packages to the post office to be sent to customers (this is before UPS). Their system was simply not to send the packages, keep the money (cash) he was given, and go out drinking. They didn't even ditch the unsent packages...just left them in the truck.
Preston's or Dave’s (can’t remember) girlfriend’s mother knew what was going on and called Dad to rat them out. The next time he pulled into the parking lot with the truck, Dad told him to get out, checked behind the seat, and voila, all the unsent packages! Now Dad knew why they were starting to get calls from customers saying their packages had never arrived. Dad fired the both on the spot. The next day, or very shortly thereafter, someone broke into Darling Bolt and broke open the safe by taking a drill from the back and drilling out the hinges. The safe was not for cash, but more for records. There was only $25 in it...basically petty cash, and that's all they got.
Dad called the cops who said they were on it. In fact, the Warren cop, possibly the police chief, would call Dad every few days from a corner bar, and tell him about his progress. One day, in fact, he was sure that the two culprits were in the same bar as him, but he failed to arrest them for some unknown reason. At any rate, the two banditos eventually decided to leave with their ill-gotten gains (the $25) and fled south, but the second guy eventually got homesick and returned to his girlfriend.
Then he was apprehended, went to court, pled guilty and was given a three-year sentence in the Hoosegow. The other guy stayed in the south until he ran out of money. Then he came back north, where he continued to get involved with not so upstanding folks. Meanwhile the Warren cop is still calling Dad from the bar telling him he's on the case.
One night, Preston and another guy were in a bar in Warren, when they had the probably half-drunken idea of robbing that bar. So, they went outside, cut holes in paper bags, and came back in with a gun, telling the owner of the bar to hand over his cash. He said, fine, but I keep all my cash in the back in a safe. One of you follow me back there and I'll give it to you. When they got to the safe, he bent down, opened the safe, which also contained a loaded handgun, turned around and shot the guy dead. The police apprehended Preston who was then put in prison for something like 20 years for being an accessory to robbery with a firearm and attempted murder.
(Dad adds a couple of years later.)
I didn't think I finished the story. On my way home that night I was about halfway when a cop pulled me over. Keep in mind I was the only one on the road. I said what's up officer. He said you have no taillights. Not a surprise after all I had been through. He said he knew a young fellow that was just getting started in the repair business and he thought he would still be at the shop. He said follow him and he would take me there.
Sure enough he was still there and when I explained how it all happened he immediately went to work restoring the lights which were a mess as you can imagine. He finished the job in about a half hour and I said how much do I owe for the great service. He said he thought I had been through enough for one trip and the service was on him. What a guy! I continued my way and got home about midnight. A trip I will never forget.
~Story from Watson, retold by Will Stanley
A collection of photos remembering Mr. Stanley
Looking back on Mr. Stanley's 90th Birthday celebration
I composed this song about dad. I sing and play all the instruments in the song; hope that all of you enjoy it! - Will Stanley (son of Mr. Stanley)