William Crippen Tarpley passed away on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Crippen was born in Tallapoosa, Georgia September 27, 1922 to Emory Napoleon Tarpley and Elizabeth Stanley Tarpley. He was preceded in death by his parents; and his brothers, Clarence Tarpley, Cecil Tarpley, and Claude Tarpley. He moved to Salem, Virginia when he was young, then relocated to Roanoke, Virginia where he graduated from Jefferson High School. His family moved back to Salem permanently where his father was minister of Central United Methodist Church.
After high school, Crippen was drafted in the United States Army Second Division as a combat infantry soldier in World War II. He fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge in France and continued fighting all the way to Germany, and was awarded the Purple Heart.
On June 19th, 1948 he married Genevieve Cuddy, and settled in Salem, Virginia where they raised three children and owned and operated Tarpley’s Inc. Crippen originally opened a newsstand and soda fountain with his brothers, Carl, Claude, and Cecil in 1948. After Claude and Carl left to work at Norfolk and Western Railroad, Crippen and Cecil remained partners and expanded the business. Their father, Emory Tarpley repaired watches on site to supplement his income as a minister which gave Crippen and Cecil the idea to sell jewelry. Soon thereafter they added gifts, and the soda fountain became a full service cafeteria. They also sold televisions and sporting goods. An adjacent building was acquired to accommodate more appliances in the 1970’s. Tarpley’s was the first dealer in the Roanoke Valley to carry televisions in the early 1950’s. Tarpley’s was nicknamed the Capitol of Salem because it was the central hub of the downtown area that attracted politicians, judges, lawyers, merchants, professors, and other professionals to dine in the cafeteria on a regular basis to discuss current events and Salem politics.
Crippen became sole proprietor of Tarpley’s Inc. in 1973 after his brother Cecil’s passing. He was named Top Merchant by the Salem Women’s Club (cited by the women’s organization for his dedication to the city of Salem and spurring interest in the revitalization of the downtown area.) He was also nominated for the Top Retailer in the state of Virginia for his innovative merchandising techniques. Crippen retired and sold the business in 1994 and was remembered by customers as the man with a warm smile and friendly conversation.
Crippen was a charter member of the Salem Quarterback Club which later turned into the Salem Sports Foundation. He served as the president of the Foundation. Originally, the Salem Quarterback Club met in the cafeteria of Tarpley’s before moving to the Salem Civic Center. He also served on the Advisory Board of First National Exchange Bank in Salem, and was an executive board member of First United Methodist Church. Additionally, he was a charter member of the Salem Jaycees and belonged to the Salem Merchants Association, as well as being a lifelong member of the Taylor Masonic Lodge #23.
People who knew Crippen have memories of his kind gentle nature, generosity, and quick wit. He will mostly be remembered for his selfless dedication and loving commitment to his wife Genevieve.
Crippen is survived by his loving wife, Genevieve Tarpley; son, David Tarpley and wife Wanda of Columbia, SC; daughters, Susan White and husband Robert of Greenville, SC; Ann Francesco of Concord, NC; grandchildren, Jenny Tarpley, Robin Paz and husband Jeff, Jeffrey Tarpley and wife Susie, Carrie Winesett and husband Doug, Courtney and Matthew Francesco; great grandchildren, Caroline Paz and Brynn Tarpley; and a brother, Carl Tarpley, Sr.
The family would like to extend their heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for the services provided by Good Samaritan Hospice, and for all the help provided by friends, neighbors, and relatives in the past several months. Also, a special thank you to members of First United Methodist Church for their visits and generous meals.
The family will receive friends from 10 until 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at John M. Oakey & Son Funeral Home in Salem. A graveside service will follow at 12 p.m. at Sherwood Memorial Park in Salem, with Pastor Bobby Pickle officiating.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made in memory of Crippen to the Salem Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 291, Salem, VA 24153 or First United Methodist Church at 125 West Main Street in Salem, VA. 24153. Online condolences may be expressed at www.johnmoakey.com. The Tarpley family is being served by John M. Oakey & Son Funeral Home in Salem, 540-389-5441.