Originally from Albion, Michigan, Stafford was born in Petoskey in the summer months of August as quite a surprise to his mother who was vacationing in the area.
Stafford is a graduate from Albion High School in 1956 and was graduated from Northwestern University School of Management with a degree in Labor Relations in 1960.
Shortly after, he purchased the Bay View Inn in April of 1961, just prior to his marriage to Janice in June. Stafford had worked several summers at the Bay View Inn (1957-1960) and made arrangements to purchase the Inn from Dr. Roy Heath in 1961 at 22 years of age.
From that time, Stafford’s Hospitality grew. The Pier Restaurant was purchased in 1970, the Weathervane Restaurant in 1986, the Perry Hotel in 1989, the Gallery in 2007 and most recently Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge in 2011.
Stafford was the Founding President of Independent Innkeepers Association which is now Select Registry and was the first recipient of its Stafford Smith Award, an award for outstanding contribution to the Association and Hospitality Industry.
In 1995, Stafford received the Hotelier of the Year from the Michigan Lodging Association.
His contributions to the local community and tourism industry include: Past President of the Petoskey Chamber of Commerce; Past President of Rotary in Petoskey; Past Chairman of West Michigan Tourist Association; Past member of the Downtown Development/Management Board; Served on the Northern Michigan Hospital Board of Directors for 20 years and the Advisory Board; and Served on the Board of Directors of Crystal Mountain Resort in Benzie County.
Stafford is the Chairman of Stafford’s Hospitality. He spends his summers in Petoskey with his wife of 51 years, Janice. Together, they have three children: Stafford Reginald Smith and wife Lori, Mary Kathryn and husband Todd, and Dean M. Smith. They enjoy spending time with their three grand children: Andrew, Jessica and Kaitlyn.