With the passing of Charles Radford “Rad” Stearns on Sunday, Aug. 31, the coin collecting hobby community and the ANA board lost not just a good friend and consummate collector, but also a driving and motivational force, a shining light for all that we as hobbyists come to enjoy and appreciate in the pursuit of our interests.
A Chicagoan by birth but a Georgian by choice and disposition, Rad was a Southern gentleman in every sense of the expression. Always considerate of others and evidencing studied wisdom in approaching issues of the day, he was also always very sharing of his time and talents toward the encouragement and advancing of the hobby.
As a life-long collector, Rad’s primary interests ultimately gravitated to the specialized numismatic disciplines of the Colonial paper money of Georgia and the coinage of Russia, becoming a consummate collector of both. In these passions, he was also a very sharing hobbyist, being a highly honored exhibitor. Among his many exhibit honors was an ANA Howland Wood Award for best-in-show. He was always a willing presenter of educational programs on those topics.
While serving his first term as a member of the ANA board, Rad was a co-chair of the Education Committee. He focused his efforts toward upgrading the organization’s severely outdated video program. As a proponent of the value of education in developing greater enthusiasm for, and broadening the interest in numismatics, he was of the highest rank.
The depth of Rad’s interest in the coin collecting hobby community is evidenced by his dedicated commitment to hobby organizations over the years, including not only the ANA, but also the Georgia Numismatic Association and the Blue Ridge Numismatic Association. Having served as general chairman of the 1987 Atlanta ANA convention, he had also served the three organizations in educational forum, exhibiting and assistant chair capacities.
Most importantly Rad’s energy and enthusiasm were not narrowly focused. In its deliberations the ANA board was always extended his deliberate and logical thoughts, be they on education, exhibiting, finances or policy. His frequent droll quips on issues of the day were welcome and invariably thought provoking.
His energy and enthusiasm knew no bounds. That for scuba diving and underwater photography became known to me when he learned that one of my daughters possessed similar interests. He immediately began offering suggestions of dive destinations and providers. I regret that I never had the opportunity to join him on one of his adventure travel outings, of which he had regaled me from time to time, experiences which he had made available to his dental practice staff. Participation certainly had to be a treat.
Rad was a dental surgeon from 1967 to 2006. He was educated at Notre Dame University and the Chicago College of Dental Surgery at Loyola University. His service as a U.S. Navy officer for two years following graduation introduced him to Georgia. I’ll long remember, however, how excited he was about coming to the Milwaukee 2007 ANA convention, in part because a Friday evening “Dinner with the Chairmen” young numismatist scholarship fund raising dinner at Mader’s would provide the excuse for him and Mary Lu to once again return to one of their favored dining destinations of years past.
While Rad and I had opportunities to share meals together on subsequent occasions, that was, you might say, our “Last Supper.” It’s an occasion that will be forever stored in my memory. He was vibrant and full of life, eagerly anticipating his fight for the ANA and life. That’s the way he would want to be, and should be remembered.
Still, the void is there and will remain, for Mary Lu and family, for his former professional associates, for our hobby community and for me personally.
Clifford Mishler is a hobbyist from Iola, Wis., and ANA board member.