Delbert Leon Stapley (11 December 1896 – 19 August 1978) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1950 to 1978.
Stapley was born in Mesa
, Arizona Territory
. As a youth, he rejected a chance at playing Major League Baseball
so he could serve a mission
in the southern United States. He remained active in the church throughout his life, with his favorite sport being golf
. He loved sports. Ensign
stories say he rejected a chance to play Major League Baseball because he didn't want to play on Sunday, that being a sacred day for Latter-day Saints
to not work or play.
He was a stake president
for only three years before receiving a call to the apostleship
on September 30
. Stapley was sustained on October 5
at the October general conference
of the church to fill the vacancy caused by the passing of George F. Richards
. Stapley was notified of his new calling by Church President George Albert Smith
in the elevator bank of the Hotel Utah
Views on civil rights
A letter sent by Stapley is illustrative of his perspective regarding blacks before they were more widely assimilated into the LDS Church. Dated January 23
, the letter urges then-Michigan Governor George W. Romney
to back away from his perspectives that favored civil rights, and calls the then-current civil rights bill "vicious legislation. Romney is reported to have accelerated his engagement in the civil rights cause shortly after receiving the letter.
Like those of the LDS Church, Stapley's views changed with time and, from his hospital bed, Stapley sustained the First Presidency's action on June 8, 1978 that all worthy men receive the priesthood, regardless of race.
Stapley delivered his last conference address in October 1977. The following April conference he was too ill to attend.
Stapley died on August 19, 1978 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He suffered cardiac arrest at about noon while walking near his home. At the time of his death, he was third apostle in line to the presidency of the church.
His vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve was filled by James E. Faust.