ST. GEORGE — Family, friends and community members have come together to honor the memory of Brad Stapley who was killed Feb. 7 in an avalanche while snowmobiling on Circleville Mountain.
Stapley, 41, was a well-known and beloved pharmacist, friend and family man who has been described as “the ultimate friend.”
He was born Nov. 16, 1977, in St. George to Evan and Faith Stapley and was the oldest of five children born to the couple. He attended Pine View High School and later served a mission to Nebraska for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While in Nebraska, Stapley would sometimes sneak into the apartment where other church missionaries were staying and dump ice water on them while they were in the shower, then quickly get way before getting caught, his brother Devan Stapley said with a grin as he shared mission stories with St. George News that he heard from others who served alongside his older brother in Nebraska.
“Brad was Brad,” Evan Stapley said as he and his sons Devan and Aaron shared their memories of Brad.
Following the church mission, Brad Stapley attended Dixie College where he met Jana Graham. The two were married in the LDS Mount Timpanogos Temple American Fork, Utah, on June 16, 2000, according to his obituary. Once he completed his prerequisites at Dixie College, Stapley attended the Nevada College of Pharmacy in Henderson, Nevada, where he graduated in 2004.
Brad and Jana Stapley moved back to St. George where he joined his father as a pharmacist at the former Bateman Pharmacy. It was later renamed to Stapley Pharmacy and eventually expanded to include additional locations. Brad and Jana bought the business from his parents in mid-2015 and added a location in Enterprise, Utah.
Brad Stapley was “a real patients’ advocate,” said brother Aaron Stapley, who is also a pharmacist. Aaron Stapley said his brother instructed his employees to find the best deals for the patient, whether that meant finding coupons for medications or getting them less costly generic medications where possible.
Brad Stapley was also sensitive to the needs of the people he helped, Devan Stapley said, and would sometimes pay for someone’s medications out of his own pocket.
Friends and family have described Brad as a philanthropist, though he never made his philanthropic activities known.
“He didn’t wear it on his sleeve,” friend and business partner Walt Brooks said.
Brooks, who runs the company RxTrax, said people came first for Brad Stapley.
“He was always kind and generous,” Brooks said. “He had no selfish bone in his body.”
St. George Mayor Jon Pike said Stapley’s death is a “tremendous loss.”
“I knew Brad Stapley through my work with SelectHealth as well as the City,” Pike said. “Like so many people, I found Brad to be incredibly friendly, always professional, and completely devoted to his community and most of all his family. His passing is a tremendous loss for all of us. My thoughts and prayers go out to Jana, their beautiful daughters, and the entire Stapley family.”
Evan Stapley said his son had a gift for making everyone he met feel he was their best friend.
“Well, you can’t have 14,000 best friends, but I swear Brad did it,” he said.
Brad Stapley would take time to talk to anyone and make them feel as if he had all the time in the world for them, his father said, adding his son was also a great communicator.
“He listened and he wasn’t judgmental. (Brad) was talented with words and communication.”
Seeking to improve his communication skills, Brad Stapley joined the local chapter of Toastmasters International, a group dedicated to helping members become better public speakers.
“The time he spent with us was awesome,” longtime Toastmaster member Jo Davis said. “He is such a wonderful person and such a beautiful personality with a lot of love and caring.”
Davis said she could tell Brad Stapley had a deep love for his family through stories he told about them during the weekly meetings.
Brad and Jana Stapley have six daughters – Brinly, Brooklin, Madi, Skylar, Kapree and Darbi – whom he loved deeply, Evan Stapley said.
“He loved these girls and he wanted them to excel at whatever they wanted to do.”
His father and brothers each said he leaves behind a legacy of service and love that they hope to emulate.
A Thanksgiving tradition started by Brad Stapley that his parents now observe is inviting others to Thanksgiving dinner who may not have elsewhere to go that day.
“It’s really Brad’s way,” he said. “That’s why he had so many friends, because he would be concerned with people and their feelings. He’s going to be missed, but I think we all need to step up a little now and fill some gaps. … I’ve got to be a better friend, and to the friends that he’s made, I hope they don’t forget that we’re friends too.”
“He really was the ultimate friend,” Aaron Stapley said. “He really cared about everybody.”
A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night at the Stapley Pharmacy location at Dino Crossing on Riverside Drive. A large crowd gathered in the parking lot and raised lighted candles as the “Ugly Bug Ball” played in the background. Stapley is said to have sung the song during closing time at the pharmacy.
The location of the vigil was near a Dixie State University bison statue sponsored by Stapley Pharmacy. The statue, with a depiction of the American flag draped over it, had extra meaning in the colors for Brad, Evan Stapley said.
While his son was patriotic as shown in the American flag, the red and blue also represented Brad’s two favorite sports teams – red was for the University of Utah while blue was for the Chicago Cubs.
As for the white, Evan Stapley choked up as he said, “That’s because that’s what angels wear – that’s Brad.”
Visitations will be held Friday from 6-8 p.m. and Saturday from 9-10:30 a.m., prior to the funeral service. Both visitations will be held at the LDS Washington East Stake Center, 1835 S. Washington Fields Road in Washington City, Utah.
Funeral services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. after the visitation.
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