At the age of 89, Leighton caught up with his brother Gale on the morning of February 23rd. Prior to Gale’s departure five-and-a-half years ago, the two had been lifelong friends and businesses partners. Leighton, Gale and their sister Donna came to California from Wisconsin as children during the Great Depression. They settled in Valley Home, and their father, Justin, ran a small automotive repair business.
Leighton fell victim to polio during the later part of his high school years but recovered well enough to join his brother in numerous business ventures. Like their father, they too operated an auto repair business, which was known as Stapel Brothers. Their first shop was on Pioneer Road and the second was on Horseshoe Road. Leighton and his brother also owned various properties where they farmed and raised cattle.
As a young man, Leighton loved to hunt pheasants with his Irish Setter, Sherry. He cared for and loved animals throughout his life. In fact, occasionally his neighbors would have to go looking for their dogs, as Leighton would have won them over with treats and rides to town. He really enjoyed living on Horseshoe Road and genuinely loved Bruno Spanni and his family, who were his neighbors.
He leaves behind his sister Donna, two nieces and a nephew. In addition, he will be missed greatly by Corina, Nelu, Bianca, Adriana and Joshua Sucala who provided friendship, love and care during his last year here on earth.
We are planning a small family service. If anyone would care to do something in Leighton’s name, a donation to Kay Martinelli’s Dog Rescue would be something Leighton would have appreciated. She can be contacted at (209) 606-5584.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
March 18, 2020