I have ancestors from Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, and Ireland. As far as I’ve been able to determine, the majority of my ancestors migrated from Europe to Virginia during the 1700’s, but it’s entirely possible that some may have migrated as early as the 1600’s or as late as the early 1800’s. The male line extends back to Switzerland where the surname was Stöckli.  When Hans Johannes Stöckli became a resident of the Virginia Colony in the early 1700’s, he changed his name to John Stickley.  I’m a member of the seventh generation of Stickleys born in Virginia. As far as I know, I am the youngest member of the 7th generation.


My father, Roland Floyd Stickley, was born June 25th, 1923 in Augusta County, Virginia. He grew up in a large family of 12 children, although one of his hiblings died as a baby.  The family was already quite poor before the Great Depression; the Depression only made their situation worse. My father and his brothers were so desperate for food that they hunted birds as small as sparrows. My father joined the US Army and fought in World War II. He served in the European theater of the war, spending time in Germany, France, and Belgium. He was injured in France and Belgium. His worst physical injury was due to a bullet passing through his neck; mental trauma was likely more significant than his physical injury, though. After returning to the USA, he worked a variety of jobs; he was a tour bus driver in Washington DC, a guard at the Smithsonian Institute, a hair stylist / barber, and a vacuum cleaner salesman, but he spent the bulk of his working years as a machinist for Westinghouse Corporation and several other companies—including an aircraft company. He lived in Maryland, Virginia, Arizona, and Southern California (Chula Vista). Unfortunately, he was also an alcoholic, a smoker, a schizophrenic, and he likely suffered from PTSD due to witnessing the horrors of World War II. His first wife died in an automobile accident and he later married my mother, who was 25 years his junior.  At about the same time that I was conceived, his health began declining rapidly. When I was very young, he had a stroke which left him paralyzed on one side and unable to speak clearly. I can only vaguely remember him standing. My mother took care of him with the assistance of occasional visits from home-health nurses and equipment paid for by the Veterans Administration. My father died when I was ten years old.


My mother, Thelma Marie Raines Stickley was born on April 1st, 1948 in Rockingham County, Virginia. She had one sister, who was ten years her senior. She grew up on a fairly large farm near Port Republic, VA. The house where she grew up had no running water and lacked several other modern “conveniences” (I still vividly remember the wood stoves, cistern, and the outhouse at my grandfather’s house). All of the cooking was done on a wood stove. Much of the food she ate while she was growing up was grown on the farm and in the garden. She worked on the farm as a child and was essentially a farm hand for my grandfather. She married my dad when she was 20 years old. My parents lived in Maryland for a while, then moved back to Virginia in the 1970s before I was born. They had two daughters, essentially back-to-back. My mom dealt with my father’s alcoholism, schizophrenia, and declining health while raising a family. Ultimately, my mother cared for my father, one of my sisters, her own sister, and her own father as they became more ill and eventually died. She is essentially a natural nurse.

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When I was born, I had two older sisters: Svonne and Sparkalee. Svonne was born in 1969 and Sparkalee was born in 1970. Svonne always seemed “normal” for the most part, but Sparkalee was developmentally challenged. She slowly deteriorated as she grew older. At roughly the age of 20, she began having seizures and difficulty walking by herself. Her condition rapidly worsened.  When she was 21, she was no longer able to swallow. She received nutrients from a feeding tube briefly. She died in 1992–the year after my dad died. The autopsy results showed that she had an extremely rare genetic disorder, called Hallervorden-Spatz disease (also known as pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration).

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Svonne attended Blue Ridge Community College, earned two associates degrees, and worked several jobs before going back to school to complete a bachelor’s degree in management at Eastern Mennonite University.  She began working for AIG as a life insurance agent in 2007, but then the economy in general and AIG in particular tanked in 2008. It took over four years for her to find a full-time job in one of her areas of expertise.

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Grandparents, aunts, uncles, & cousins

My oldest grandparent was born in 1892. By the time I was born, only one of my grandparents was still living—my mom’s father, Tracy Lee Raines. He actively farmed until he was about 90 years old. A stroke left him paralyzed and disoriented in 2000. My mom took care of him until his death, several months later, at the age of 91.

I had many aunts and uncles, but I was only really close to my mom’s sister, Janet. Aunt Janet was a registered nurse who lived in California for several years, while she raised her family. She eventually returned to Virginia and retired from nursing. She suffered from diabetes and died in 1999. The circumstances surrounding her death are particularly clear in my mind because I spent a great deal of time with her during her final months.  She died due to complications from a cat bite on her big toe. The bite led to an infection, which prompted the amputation of the toe. The amputation and infection triggered a heart attack, coma, and kidney failure. The hospital where she died was across the street from the physics department at James Madison University. I was a freshman physics major at the time, so I walked over to the hospital between classes.

Only one of my father’s siblings is still living.

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Since my father had such a large family and my mom’s sister was rather fruitful, I have a huge number of fairly closely related cousins (first cousins and also first cousins once and twice removed).  I’m not extremely close with any of them though.
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Family photo

Our most recent professional family photo, taken in 2000:


My Wife

Melissa Chevonne Christian was born in Los Angeles, California on my father’s 58th birthday. She was the second, and final, child born to Michael Douglas Christian and  Christina Lynn Trinchere Christian. For the first 19 years of her life, she lived with her family in Fontana, California. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old and her father died of heart failure 8 years later. Upon graduating from high school, she attended Chaffey College, where she studied photography. After one year at Chaffey, she moved to San Francisco to study at Academy  of Art College. She returned to Southern California and to Chaffey College one year later, where she studied music. She eventually transferred to Santa Monica College and graduated with a degree in liberal arts. In 2003, she began working on her first album as an independent musician, using the stage name Melissa Trinchere. Her parents had been band members in the 1970s and 1980s and her grandmother was an opera singer, so music was a natural path for her. When I met Melissa online at the very beginning of January, 2010, she was playing live shows on a fairly regular basis. Later that year, we were engaged. Then, in August of 2011, we were married at James Madison University’s planetarium—the Wells Planetarium. During our engagement, Melissa went back to school to become an esthetician. She graduated, became licensed, and began working at Kelly’s Spa at The Historic Mission Inn Hotel in downtown Riverside, CA (the best spa in the Inland Empire region of California). She also started a makeup artistry business, called Rava Beauty, but she hasn’t had enough time or funds to do anything significant with that yet. She also hasn’t had much time to work on her music, unfortunately.

In November of 2012, Melissa became pregnant with our son, Lev Sebastian Stickley. Lev was born on August 7th, 2013.

Photos of Melissa and  Lev will be added soon.