Posted by: SJS | June 5, 2012

Rita and Red in 1975

On June 3, 1950,  George (Red) Stahley and Rita O’Neill were married at Incarnation Church on 5th Street in Philadelphia.  Today, June 5th, is my mother’s birthday.  Had she lived, today would be her 87th birthday.  Both Red and Rita grew up in Philadelphia during the Great Depression and experienced the traumatic impact of WWII.  Red served on the front lines of the war in the Mediterranean and the South Pacific.  Rita almost lost her brother, Ed, who was part of the Normandy Invasion in 1944 and was severely wounded by a German sniper.  Ed lost half of his right leg as a result of the wound.

Rita and Red in 1975  The war years changed their generation in ways we are still learning about all these years later.  While the title “The Greatest Generation” has been bestowed on them, and with good reason,  the overwhelming trauma of the Second World War took a huge toll on all of them.  The deeper my research delves into my father’s service, the more I understand him and the enormous stresses that he underwent on those fragile boats that moved through hostile waters.   What my mother went through on the home front as her beloved brother, Ed, endured such suffering, I’ll never know.

My parents were survivors in ways I am only beginning to understand.  How deeply I miss them.  The early part of June comes with such a mixture of feelings – deep pride, enormous respect, sadness at their loss, and a love that grows stronger with each passing day.  They gave me life and so much more.

Happy birthday, Mom.  Thanks for everything.





  1. Love your blog Stephen. Very poignant. Happy Birthday to your mom. I know you miss your parents, so very much. They were very special people.

    • Cyndy,

      Thanks very much for the continued support; it means a lot!


  2. Steve,

    What a wonderful and beautiful tribute to your mom and dad.


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