Local devoted much of her life to Girl Scouts

By Trina Trice

Muriel "Scotty" Stapely still owns the white 1959 Ford station wagon she drove her Girl Scout troop around in while living in north Miami, Fla.

Stapely, 78, was a Girl Scout volunteer for 40 years. Her dedication to the Girl Scouts carries over into every facet of her life, including marriage, faith, family and friends.

She was born and raised in Nichol, Conn. outside the city of Bridgeport.

Her husband of 55 years, Bill Stapely, is from the same town. The couple met while attending cotillions when they were in their teens.

"Bill was a good dancer," Stapely said. "He was a senior and I was a sophomore" in high school. "And we're still dancing."

Her future husband gave her the nickname "Scotty" when she was a senior in high school. He did it for various reasons: she's of Scottish descent; she had a Scottish Terrier at the time; and she wore Scottish plaid, pleaded skirts that were popular.

Although they fell in love early on, they had to wait nine years before they could get married.

"We didn't get married ?cause World War II came along," Stapely said.

While her then boyfriend fought in the war, Stapely attended Simmons College in Boston.

Bill Stapely returned from the war in 1948; the couple married the same year.

"We went on a honeymoon around the country on a shoe string" budget, Stapely said. "Back then you could do that. We went to all 48 states, at the time, Mexico, and Canada. We ran out of money and had to stay in California. They called us the original hippies."

The couple settled in Florida to raise their two children; they lived there for 23 years.

While there, Stapely worked as a librarian and got involved in the local Brownie troop. Her volunteer work for the Brownies led to her leading a Girl Scout troop, to which her daughter Ellen belonged.

"I'm a Girl Scout fan because it's so wonderful for the girls," Stapely said. "They learn good values, they learn to care and to share.

"We had a sister Brownie troop with the Girl Scout cadets, teaching them home-making skills, camping skills, and craft skills with an emphasis on God, family, and home."

Stapely's dedication to her troop was just as fulfilling for her.

"It was the joy and satisfaction of watching the girls grow in so many ways," Stapely said. "I grew a lot myself. I didn't know anything about camping" before participating in the Girl Scouts.

When the Stapely family moved to Clayton County in 1972, Stapely's daughter was in her senior year of high school. It was joining a local Girl Scout troop that helped her daughter adjust to the move, Stapely said.

What she's most proud of these days, though, is her commitment to her marriage.

"We're so thankful for one another," Stapely said. "It's a lot more fun to be joyful than sad. When we do get upset with one another, we forgive each other. I think that's a big part of being married."

The couple still travels extensively, sometimes just with each other, or with the Delta Pioneers, a national organization of retired Delta Airlines employees.

Bill Stapely worked for Delta Airlines. His job was the reason why they moved to Georgia.

When asked what makes his wife special, Bill Stapely was almost lost for words: "You can't answer that in one statement. It takes a lot things to make a person" special. "You have to be able to think alike, enjoy the same things, be tolerate of one another. You have to be able to forgive one another for the different problems you create ? She's just a lot of things."

While Stapely's husband works on his vintage Aspen green Chevy in the basement of their Jonesboro home, Stapely likes to read and keep in touch with family and childhood friends. Stapely has grown comfortable in her skin while watching the years go by.

"I think so many people are missing out," Stapely said. "There is so much evil and the love of money. It's heart-breaking to see war again. I'm happy to see there wasn't a large loss of life, but even one life is important. But the good Lord is going to take care of it all."