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September 2018: Del Staecker

This September, we're recommending Del Staecker, known for his World War II bio-memoirs (non-fiction), his suspense trilogy set in Nashville, Tennessee, and his crime stories set in the Southside of Chicago. Staecker was born in Blue Island, IL on November 23, 1950 to Irvin H Staecker and Dorothy Bettenhausen Staecker, joining their 5 other children. He was born into farming, and spent his childhood milking cows, bailing hay, and doing chores on his relatives’ farms. This didn't stop him from playing Little League and being a Boy Scout, though! In his free time, he enjoyed taking the train to Chicago's Old Town, where he visited his Uncle ErlingKjelland at Sedgwick, his uncle's bird shop. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with leukemia early in life, but, thankfully, he ended up winning the two year battle. When he was 15, he moved to Vero Beach, FL, where he finished his high school career. He then attended The Citadel, graduating with Honors in 1972. After that, he served his country in the US Army, where he assisted with Operation Baby Lift.
He began his career as a development officer at various not-for-profits, including The American College (Bryn Mawr, PA), St. Thomas Hospital (Nashville, TN), Heartbeat International (Columbus, OH), and many more. In 1992, he decided to start his own fundraising consulting company, where he raised money to build the Country Music Hall of Fame, restore the Ringling family estate (C’Dzan), and construct Tampa Childrens Hospital.
Staecker is a life Fellow in the Royal Society of Arts and a Knight of Honor in the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Order of the Knights Hospitaller, thanks to his 30-year career as a development officer at various not-for-profits, including The American College (Bryn Mawr, PA), St. Thomas Hospital (Nashville, TN), Heartbeat International (Columbus, OH), and many more. From 1990 to '92, he was the Chairman of the National Society of Fundraising Executives, where he wrote the Donor Bill of Rights.
Even with all of these great accomplishments, Staecker was getting bored with the fundraising business, so he started looking for something different to change his life. He moved off the grid to Riggins, ID, where he ran a white-water rafting company and wrote his first novel, A Muted Mermaid, which was received positively. So positively, in fact, that Nicolas Gage (co-executive producer of The Godfather, Part III) wrote that the novel was “rich, complex and satisfying,” and John Seigenthaler (founding editorial director of USA Today) referred to Staecker as “a master storyteller.”
Encouraged by the positive reception, Staecker decided to write a second book, Shaved Ice. He then rounded off the trilogy with Chocolate Soup. These books were received just as well as their predecessor, with a review from the Midwest Book Review describing them as "deftly written masterpiece[s]." He then decided to switch gears, transitioning to non-fiction with The Lady Gangster: A Sailor's Memoir. He wrote this because of a promise he had made to his father to write about the Chicago boys on the USS Fuller. This work received many awards, including recognition from the US Navy, who named Staecker a Writer on Deck in 2012.
That same year, Staecker was invited to submit a story for a collection of crime tales. While the collection was never published, Staecker’s contribution, Blind One-Legged Johnny, became the first chapter in his book Tales of Tomasewski (2013) which, after a positive reception, was followed up with More Tomasewski.
In 2015, Staecker published Sailor Man: The Troubled Life and Times of J.P. Nunnally, USN, based on a sailor who served on the USS Fuller's letters. This sailor served along with Irvin Staecker, Del's father. As usual, the work was critically acclaimed, winning the praise of, among others, Underrated Reads, who wrote, “Sailor Man should be required reading in boot camp…in high
Inspired by his visits to Long Beach Island, NJ and Ocean City, NJ, Staecker decided to write One Good Man (fiction) in 2016, with, as in most of Staecker’s writings, anthropological insights into the nature of man and how 1 person can be a catalyst for good in our remarkably materialistic world.
Staecker also chaired the Hammett Prize Reading Committee twice, and was a finalist for Author of the Year by the Military Writers Society of America.