BILLINGS, Montana -- Beloved Husband, Father, Grandfather, and Friend, Deliven Dewight Stapp, Del as he was best known, went home to be with his Lord Nov. 23, 2010, after a courageous three and half year battle with cancer at the age of 73.
Del was born June 23, 1937, to Myrlin and Lula Stapp, in Frontier County, Nebraska where he lived and worked on the family farm until his high school graduation in 1955. He learned the value of hard work, honesty and family from an early age and was always known for his positive "can-do" attitude. He faced all the challenges life handed him with determination and tenacity, and always said of every problem "If there is a will, there is a way."
Del was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1960 and upon his release returned to McCook, Nebraska, working in a grocery store until going to work for Avco Finance. He spent 22 years as a manager and regional supervisor, moving several times before settling in Billings in 1977. In 1983, Del and his wife Shirley opened Stapp Jewelers and operated their family business with their daughter Lorri Sutherland until their retirement in December of 2003.
Del was active in many clubs in Billings. He served many years as President of Billings Optimist and was Lieutenant Governor of the same organization. Del ushered for 25 years at Faith Chapel where his warm smile and firm handshake was always ready to greet new and familiar faces. He served at many funerals during his time there and continued to do so until his health forced him to stop attending altogether.
Del had many interests in life and in the mid-'80s, he fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming a private pilot. He earned his license and promptly bought a beautiful red and white Cessna 180 which he fondly named Jullitte. He said he never felt more free than when he was in the air flying.
Del loved working outside and always kept an immaculate yard. He enjoyed fishing, camping and hunting and was a skilled carpenter and craftsman.
Del was Stapp Jeweler's premier goldsmith for many years and made many one-of-a-kind custom pieces before releasing the craft to another, due to his failing eyesight. Del was known for his bright smile, quick wit and funny sense of humor to those close to him. He could stretch a dollar further than anyone you ever met and loved the challenge of grocery shopping at a bargain.
His family always teased him for his overstuffed deep freeze and his mini grocery store in the basement. He was an exuberant Nebraska football fan, and you could often hear him yell from the basement "Touchdown." He would fling his arms in the air and several times to his surprise would land upside down on the floor after tipping his recliner over.
He always worked hard and played harder. Del used to always say, "Do your best and leave no room for others to complain." He was loved by many, disliked by some, and admired and respected by all.
Del was probably best known for the love and devotion he had for his two grandsons, David and Travis Sutherland. His was a love unconditional toward both of them. Del spent countless hours with each of them and delighted himself teaching them not only how to fish and hunt but also how to be men who would leave a place better than when they found it. The love and time he spent with them is best described in their own words, "We had the best Grandfather a boy could ever have."
The last several years of Del's life, he and his wife Shirley, Shirl as he called her, would sit in their beautiful back yard on the swing laughing and say "We may not have tomorrow, but praise God we have today." It was a gratefulness they had learned and reminded each other of often.
Del wrote his "Recipe For Life" and kept it in his Bible. Live one day at a time as for the Lord. Keep all the commandments. Expect no more and accept no less. Keep it simple and honorable. Del, you ran your race well and heaven scored.
Del was preceded in death by two small daughters, Candace Cae and Dana Michelle Stapp; and both of his parents.
Del is survived by his wife Shirley; daughter, Lorri Sutherland and husband, Todd; two grandsons, David and Travis Sutherland, all of Laurel, Montana; three sisters, Patricia Johnson and husband, Carl of Cambridge, Nebraska, Beverly Goltl and husband, Roger of McCook, Nebraska, and Connie Horn of Aurora, Colorado; and many nieces and nephews.
Our family would like to give a special thank you to Riverstone Health Hospice Care, you were a blessing during some very difficult days.
Memorials may be given to the Boys and Girls Club, 505 Orchard Lane, Billings, MT 59101.
Memorial services are Wednesday, 1 p.m., at Faith Chapel in Billings at the corner of Shiloh Road and Broadwater Avenue.
Smith West Chapel is in charge of arrangements