Sunday, August 11, 2019

Bennett Wesley Tapley, Jr. 1950-2019

"Mr. Bennett Wesley Tapley, Jr., 69, of Kite passed away Monday, August 5, 2019 at Fairview Hospital in Dublin following an extended illness.
 Mr. Tapley was born May 8, 1950 in Sandersville to the late Bennett Wesley Tapley, Sr. and Mary Kathryn Johnson Tapley.  He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Diane Browning Tapley.  Mr. Tapley loved to go hunting and fishing.  He was a self-taught diesel mechanic and a welder which he passed on to his nephew.   Mr. Tapley was a very intelligent person with an excellent memory. Even though he sacrificed his education, he excelled in his trade.  Mr. Tapley was a member of Powell’s Chapel Methodist Church.
Survivors include his brothers, Randall Tapley, Wayne (Pam) Tapley, Oliver Tapley, all of Kite; sisters, Teresa (Duncan) McEachern, Pam (Bill) Mathis, both of Dublin; several nieces, nephews and many friends.
Graveside Services will be Wednesday, August 7, 2019 11 a.m. at Powell’s Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery with Reverend Allen Meeks officiating.
The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. till time of service at Powell's chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery.
Condolences may be expressed at www.chapmanfhofswainsboro.com
Chapman Funeral Home of Swainsboro is in charge of the arrangements for Mr. Bennett Wesley Tapley, Jr., 69, of Kite."  Obituary courtesy of www.chapmanfhofswainsboro.com
My cousin passed away last week.  We were close.  We shared a love of family history.  We shared family.  As his obituary so aptly read, "Mr. Tapley was a very intelligent person with an excellent memory."  That was so true.  Even after his stroke a few years ago, he still remembered anyone or any place I mentioned to him.  He wasn't able to get the words out, but I could see in his eyes that he knew exactly who or what I was talking about.  
Our grandfathers, Bennett Olin Tapley and Lucian Keman Tapley were brothers.  Our fathers, Bennett Wesley Tapley, Sr. and Gilbert Tapley were first cousins.  We visited their house often when I was a child.  Wesley Jr. would be working on a truck (diesel engine, I imagine) in the back yard under the trees and there was a semi-circle of chairs there, and our fathers would sit there and shoot the breeze while Wesley Jr. worked and I played with Pam, his youngest sister.  I like to think that Wesley Jr. just soaked up all the stories his father told out there.  And he never forgot a one of them.  
Wesley Jr was almost grown by the time I came along, so those times I would be there playing, he was in his 20's.  But I remember he was always nice to me.  Spoke to me.  Didn't just ignore me cause I was a kid.  I thought he was cool, like a lot of my older cousins.  
Of course, I grew up, moved away, was busy living my life same as he was living his.  We didn't keep in contact.  For about 25-30 years.  Then my uncle passed away in 2007, and I attended the funeral at Powell's Chapel.  Wesley Jr was there but I didn't recognize him.  Had no idea who he was.  I had to ask my mother.  When she told me it was Wesley Jr., I went right over to him, and it was like no time had passed.  At this point, I was very much into genealogy research, and he was a wealth of information.  Like his father, he told great stories, which just happened to be true stories about our family.  So every time I visited the area, I would visit him.  Even after I moved to North Carolina, I still tried to see him at least once a year when I was down visiting my mother.  He was always welcoming.  Ready with stories, pictures, or artifacts from our family's history. 
When I needed to contact him, I would call him at his "office" - the Penny Saver in Kite.  He was there every morning, drinking coffee, and shooting the breeze.  They would call him to the phone, and I could let him know when I would be in town or who had passed away in the family or whatever information I needed to relay.  
These pictures were taken at his "office" in 2012:


In 2014, his wife passed away, and soon after, he suffered a debilitating stroke.  He could no longer live alone and had to go into a nursing home.  I visited him in Dublin.  Then he got moved to Metter.  Mom and I went to seem him there, for what turned out to be the last time, about a year ago.  He recently was moved to Wrightsville and closer to home.  I was excited and planning to visit him next month.  But I didn't get the chance.  Due to distance and other variables, I was unable to attend his funeral.  My heart has another crack.  

Wesley, I am sorry I wasn't there enough the last 5 years.  I am sorry I wasn't there at all the last year.  I'm terribly sorry I wasn't there to tell you goodbye.  I hope you know my heart and know that I loved you, respected you, enjoyed my time with you, and I look forward to seeing you again and hearing just one more family story.  

You are reunited with your beloved Diane, your parents, Wesley and Kathryn, and your grandparents, who I am sure doted on you.  You can speak, walk, or even jog if you wish.  You are no longer sitting bored and lonely in a nursing home.  You feel warmth and light all the time.  I so want to believe you are happy.  I can see your smile in my mind's eye, and I hope you're wearing a big and magical one.

Wesley Jr and Bennett Olin Tapley, circa 1954

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