A native of Virginia he was the son of Edwin Staley and Eleanor O'Neal Clements. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney college in 1951 and the University of Virginia in 1955 with a PhD in Chemistry. He started his professional career at Celanese Corp. in Summit NJ, then joining Chemstand Corp. and relocating to the newly developed Research Triangle Park in 1960. He later joined the Environmental Protection Agency, serving until his retirement.
He is survived by the family he dearly loved, his wife Sylvia, daughter Mary Carol, and son Fred and daughter-in-law Pansy. Each family member fondly remembers John's love and support and marvels at his fortitude in living many years with Parkinson's Disease. A family memorial will be held at a later date.