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Staley siblings have fond memories of their brother, David

June 20, 2005

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about David Thomas Staley, who died June 9 at the age of 52. His obituary appeared in the June 12 edition of The Herald-Mail.

marlob@herald-mail.com

Stephen Staley couldn't mask the pleasure he felt retelling a favorite childhood adventure shared with his older brother, David, as family members gathered recently to look back over a life ended too soon.

"David and I were just two years apart," Stephen said. "We were on the same Little League teams ... in the same Boy Scout troops. He was also there to guide me in hunting and fishing."

Growing up on Belview Avenue in Hagerstown, David and Stephen often would hop on their bicycles in the summer months and ride to their older sister's farm on Leitersburg Pike.

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"We'd pick tomatoes for a few cents a basket," Stephen said.

And then, more often than not, the two young boys would launch into a spirited tomato fight that ended with a plunge in a nearby stream, both to cool off and to get clean before the long bike ride home.

Jean Stockslager, the oldest of the Staley children, said her farm always was a popular destination for David and some of her other siblings in the summer.

"David especially loved going to the farm as a kid," Jean said. "He'd pick tomatoes and break up rocks."

David Thomas Staley died June 9 at the age of 52. His last days were spent in a nursing home in Westminster, Md., as a result of a melanoma that had spread from a mole on his shoulder throughout his body.

"He'd had that mole for a long time," said Arlene Harryman Staley, who married David in March after an eight-year relationship. "Then one day when he got out of the shower, it was bleeding."

Arlene said she had been concerned about the mole because its appearance had been changing.

"David just waited too long to get it checked," she said. The cancer spread into his lungs, lymph nodes and brain.

As a youth, David was blond, blue-eyed and had fair skin. He often worked as a lifeguard in the summer and got a lot of sun - before the dangers of unprotected exposure were as well-known, she said.

David earned a college degree in industrial education, and went into the welding business while teaching blueprint reading and his trade at Hagerstown Community College.

"We were sort of a welding family," said brother William, who was eight years older. "David and I taught together for 30 years."

Stephen, who broke the family mold by going into sales, did learn the trade and also taught with David for about a year.

William said David loved going trapshooting with him. A lifelong love of hunting and fishing began early for the Staley boys, who learned from their father, Wolford Staley, who still lives at the family home on Belview Avenue with his wife, Margaret.

John Staley, the youngest in the family, said his older sister Jean already was married and out of the home when he was born. David was 7 years old when John came along.

With a family so spread out in ages, get-togethers were infrequent and centered around holidays.

"We weren't a real close family, but we did picnic every summer, and then there would be something at Christmas," John said.

Mostly, the family would be involved in outdoor activities together. There were camping trips and weekends at the river.

"Dad loved hunting and fishing, and we'd come along," John said.

David, he said, especially was fond of the outdoor life, as evidenced by an early picture of him as a toddler, trying to fill his father's hunting boots while holding up his father's gun.

"I was like a second mother to David," Jean said. "He was such a cute little thing."

Niece Diana Mayhue - Jean's daughter - said her Uncle Dave's sense of fun is something she always will hold dear.

"I remember once, he came over to the farm and we were fishing," Diana said. "He put a dead fish on my brother's line just to trick him."

Now that the memorial service has been held, Arlene said she plans to go back to Baltimore and resume her clerical employment there. The surviving Staley family members continue to live mostly in and around Washington County.

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