WASHINGTON CITY —Earlier this month, a small crowd gathered by the entry of the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park in Washington City to honor the memory of late pharmacist Brad Stapley with the relocation of a Dixie State Trailblazer bison statue to the park.
The gathering was held Feb. 7, a year after Brad Stapley, 41, was killed in an avalanche while snowmobiling in the Beaver Mountains of Central Utah. At the time of his death, Brad Stapley ran Stapley Pharmacy, a family business started by his parents. He had been described as “the ultimate friend” by those who knew him.
“Its crazy to think its been a year since he passed,” Devan Stapley, Brad’s younger brother, said. Devan Stapley was one of a mixed crowd of family, friends and civic officials who came to celebrate his bother’s memory while also lending a measure of support to Dixie State University.
Like many businesses and entities in and around St. George, Stapley Pharmacy sponsored a Dixie State University bison. These are statues of Dixie State’s mascot, Brooks the Bison, that are painted with different themes dictated by their sponsoring entities. They are also meant to show the community’s support for the university.
The bison statue sponsored by Stapley Pharmacy had been located at the corner of Mall and Riverside drives in St. George where one of their pharmacies is located.
“It never really felt like that bison was home at its previous location,” Devan Stapley said, adding that since his brother grew up in Washington City “it just feels right to have it here.”
The bison statue sponsored by Stapley Pharmacy has a painted American flag draped over it. While Brad Stapley’s family said he was patriotic, the colors of the flag also had special meaning for him – 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.
Construction at the shopping center where the bison had been located necessitated its relocation, which Washington City officials were happy to oblige.
“The bison has come home,” Washington City Councilman Kurt Ivie said.
Ivie, who recently retired as a teacher with the Washington County School District, said he’s known the Stapley family for a long time and recalled teaching Brad when he was in the fourth grade.
“(This bison) stands as a daily reminder to Brad and the Stapley family and their courage through this hard time,” Ivie said. “It’s an honor for us to have it here.”
Last month, there was discussion among the City Council about sponsoring a Dixie State bison statue as there were none in Washington City at the time. Councilman Kress Staheli led that discussion and played a part in getting the Stapley bison relocated to the soccer park, Ivie said.
Observance of Stapley’s passing and gratitude for the relocation of the bison statue were expressed through a prayer offered by Evan Stapley, Brad’s father. Following the prayer, a balloon was released heavenward.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” Devan Stapley said.
Brad Stapley, survived by his wife Jana and their six daughters, received a great outpouring of love and support from the community in wake of Brad’s death, Devan Stapley said. The family’s faith has also added to their ability to cope with Brad’s passing, he said.
“It was really humbling,” Devan Stapley said. “We feel really blessed to live in this community.”
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