Delbert L. Stapley was born to Orley Seymour and Polly May Hunsaker Stapley
on December 11, 1896 at Mesa, Arizona, one of a family of nine children.
He fulfilled a mission in the Southern States, 1915-1917,
and was a U.S. Marine during World War I. In 1918, he married Ethel Davis, whom he courted
in buggies borrowed from his father's hardware store. The couple would have three children.
He served as president of the
Phoenix Stake, superintendent of the Stake MIA,
High Councilor in the Maricopa Stake and counselor in
the Phoenix Stake Presidency.
Before being called to serve as a member of the Council
of the Twelve in 1950, he was a prominent business, civic and church leader.
Elder Stapley was president of a hardware and implement firm in Arizona.
He was also past president of the Lions Club of Phoenix, Arizona, and the
Phoenix Better Business Bureau, and a former member of the Mesa City Council.
He served as president of the Roosevelt Council of the Boy Scouts of America
and was member of the National Advisory Board Committee.
He was sustained to the Council of the Twelve and
ordained an Apostle October 5, 1950 at the age of fifty-three by President
George Albert Smith.
In his first Conference address, he related the circumstances of that calling: “As
I got out of the elevator in the Hotel Utah, whom should the Lord place in my path but President George
Albert Smith. There is no one I would rather see, for I have known and loved him for a long time.”
(President Smith had visited in the family home in Arizona when on stake conference assignments, had
set young Delbert apart as a missionary, officiated at his marriage, supervised the general MIA while
Elder Stapley was stake MIA superintendent, and for two weeks had been Elder Stapley’s personal guest
at the dedication of the Arizona Temple.)
“And so here he was, blocking my way. He said, ‘President Stapley, you are
just the man I am looking for.’ There in the lobby of Hotel Utah he told me that it was the wish
of the Brethren that I come on the Council. Well, … I went up to the room and called my wife from
an adjoining room. I just couldn’t speak, I was so overcome with emotion.”
He served in the Twelve until his death of cardiac arrest while walking near
his home on August 19, 1978 at Salt Lake City, well beloved and mourned by many. The eighty-one-year-old
apostle had been ill for several months and had been excused from April Conference earlier in the year.
Sister Ethel Davis Stapley followed her husband in death in 1984.