Cover photo for SFC (Ret.) Richard Lee Stai's Obituary
SFC (Ret.) Richard Lee Stai Profile Photo
1950 Richard 2023

SFC (Ret.) Richard Lee Stai

May 14, 1950 — June 25, 2023


SFC Richard Lee Stai, Army (Ret), age 73, of Palmyra Tn, passed away peacefully on Sunday June 25, 2023, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tn, after a courageous battle with cancer. His wife Debra and daughter Melissa were at his side when he went home to the Lord. 

Rick was born May 14, 1950, in Eau Claire Wis, son of the late Orrin and Bertha (Berg) Stai.

On June 14th, 1969, Rick was united in marriage to Debra Vance, Trinity Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, Wis. To this union they had one daughter, Melissa Kay. Rick and Deb were blessed to celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary together this year. 

Rick attended Memorial High School in Eau Claire Wis. In September 1971 he completed his GED though the United States Army. Rick proudly served his country with the United States Army from October 16,1970 and received an Honorable Discharge on October 1,1990 with the rank of SFC (Sergeant First Class). His last duty station was with H Company 159th Aviation, 101st Airborne Division as the Components Repair Supervisor. 

Rick received numerous military Decorations/Ribbon/Medals some of which were: National Defense Service Medal, Army Achievement Medals, Army Commendation Medals, Air Assault School, NCO Professional Development and Aircraft Crewmember. He also completed numerous Military Education courses, some of which were: Senior Leadership Courses, Aircraft Maintenance Advance Course, Aviator Maintenance Supervisor Courses, Aircraft Structure Repairer Technical Inspector and Primary Leadership. Rick also completed his associate in science degrees in the field of Aviation Maintenance Technician and Helicopter Mechanics through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. After military retirement, Rick did what he loved to do as an Auto Mechanic. He later worked for Johnny Moore of Moore Construction Co. in Clarksville Tn. for 10+ years as Head Mechanic /Shop Foreman. 

In 2017 Rick and Deb began traveling around America in their RV. They would spend their summers in Wisconsin at their lake property (Beaver Lake) Bloomer Wis., where Rick would fish Beaver Lake and Marsh-Miller Lake. Rick enjoyed having family and friends come to visit, cook out, have a beer or two and go fishing. He loved his quiet time outdoors, riding his side by side on back trails and gardening his vegetable and flower gardens. Rick and Deb would return to Tennessee for the winter to be near Melissa, Wayne, granddaughters, and great-grandchildren.

Rick will forever be remembered for his love of family and friends. He was a man that would make himself available to others with kindness and willingness to help. 

Rick will be dearly missed by his wife Debra, his daddy’s girl Melissa (Stai) Aull, son-in- law Carl Dewayne Aull, granddaughters Destiny and Brittany and his great-grandchildren Audrina, Allyana, Amelia and Peyton. 

Rick will be dearly missed by his siblings: Joanne Robertson of Strum Wi., Vivian (Jerry) Kilgore of Dublin Ga., Ronnie Stai of Appleton Wi., John (Barb) Stai of Ontario Wi., Thomas (Robin) Stai of Huron S.D, and his sister-in-law Kathy Stai of Mondovi, Wis. He will also be missed by his aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews and Debra’s siblings, nieces, and nephews.

Rick is preceded in death by his parents Orrin and Bertha (Berg) Stai, brothers: DuWayne, Robert, Orrin Jr., sisters: Dianne Schwartz, Patricia "Patty" Stai, Barbara Meistad, sister-in-law Kathryn Biesek, and brothers-in-laws: LeRoy "Tony" Robertson and Alvin Schwartz. 

Rick's strong belief in his Lord and Savior calmed him through his trying times and guided him home safely to heaven. Rick would read his Bible verses daily and knew the Lord was with him when he left this physical world.

A special thank you goes to Vanderbilt University Medical Center doctors Dr. Robert Ramirez, Medical Oncology, and Dr. Evan Osmundson, Radiation Oncology and all supporting doctors, nurses, care providers, support staff and the Palliative Care Unit for all the gentle and loving care they provided to Rick. 

Graveside services will be held at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West in Hopkinsville, KY on Wednesday, July 12, 2023 at 11:00 A.M.

Final arrangements entrusted to Gateway Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 335 Franklin St. Clarksville, TN 37040. Phone: 931-919-2600. Online condolences may be made by visiting

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of SFC (Ret.) Richard Lee Stai, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

11:00 - 11:30 am (Central time)

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