Former Wadena mayor, business owner lived life of service
A former Wadena mayor and business owner will be remembered for his full life of service to others. Robert Edward Tapley Jr. was born Sept. 2, 1940 to Robert Edward "Ed" Tapley Sr. and Ella Magdalene (Fillbrandt) Tapley at Wesley Hospital in Wadena.
A former Wadena mayor and business owner will be remembered for his full life of service to others.
Robert Edward Tapley Jr. was born Sept. 2, 1940 to Robert Edward "Ed" Tapley Sr. and Ella Magdalene (Fillbrandt) Tapley at Wesley Hospital in Wadena. He died on Jan. 22, 2017 at his home in Woodbury.
His daughter, Stefanie Kittelson, of Cottage Grove, said many people from Wadena may remember her dad's lifelong struggle with a rare genetic skin disorder. He was born with Lamellar Ichthyosis and was sent to the Mayo Clinic as an infant. With little known about this disorder at the time, he was sent home with his parents who were told to "make him comfortable until he passed away," Kittelson said.
However, his mother, Ella, was a Registered Nurse who left her position at the hospital to devote herself to his full-time care. Robert did not pass away as an infant, but thrived and lived to the age of 76, beating all expectations of the doctors, Kittelson said.
In his early adulthood, he was involved in many clinical studies at the Mayo Clinic in which some topical medications were developed and benefitted him and his quality of his life. The Tapley family is honoring Robert's wishes and his body is being donated to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to further benefit science and medicine.
"We are honored that the Mayo Clinic respectfully received his body for their program," Kittelson said. "His final return to the Mayo Clinic upon his death is, in some fashion, completing a circle or destiny important to him. We are honored to be able to fulfill his wishes and we have peace that this was God's plan."
Upon the conclusion of their studies, the family will attend a memorial service and will be able to meet the students who will have benefitted from the gift.
"At that time, his cremated remains will be returned to our family. Dad's request was to remain with Mom until her passing and, at that time, they will be laid to rest together in the Tapley family plot of the Wadena cemetery in our hometown of Wadena," Kittelson added.
His wife, Bonnie Kay (Badgons) Tapley, recalled several of her husband's activities in Wadena during the first part of their marriage.
Tapley graduated from Wadena High School in 1958 and received his radio license in broadcasting, working at the radio station for a short time. He managed Tapley's Ben Franklin store in Wadena for many years and was mayor of Wadena for one term.
He was also part of the Civil Air Patrol, Silver Spurs Saddle Club, president of the area Jaycees and state vice president of the Jaycees. He was also a member of Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce and a member of Wadena Assembly of God Church.
Robert and Bonnie had two children: Stefanie Kay (Tapley) Kittelson (Class of 1985) of Cottage Grove and Scott Robert Tapley (Class of 1986) of Savoy, Ill.
After leaving Wadena in 1988, they moved to California and then served in various positions with the Salvation Army in Tucson, Ariz., Rochester, Minn., Jamestown, N.D., and Champaign, Ill.
After leaving the Salvation Army, they lived in Cottage Grove for a few years before moving to a Christian Retreat in Bradenton, Fla. They spent 12 years in Bradenton, Fla. and continued volunteer work.
Robert struggled with vascular dementia for several years and was receiving Hospice care since October in the Twin Cities.