Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Delbert L. Stapley Delbert L. (Leon) Stapley

1896 - 1978

  • Born 1896, Mesa, Arizona
  • Baptized as a child; Aaronic Priesthood as a youth; Melchizedek Priesthood as a young man
  • Mission to the Southern States 1915-1917
  • Married Ethel Davis 1918; three children
  • High Councilor, Counselor in Stake Presidency, Stake president
  • Ordained Apostle 1950
  • Died 1978, Salt Lake City, Utah

    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.

    “News of the Church: Death of Elder Delbert L. Stapley Mourned,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, p.56
    Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.4, Appendix 1
    Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of he Last Dispensation, p.485
    2005 Church Almanac, p.67

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