Belva Stapp, 92, was born and raised in Marion Township Jan. 9, 1921 to Lorin and Marie Hutchison.
Belva still lives on the family farm which was once 364 acres, and has since expanded to 700. The farm was bought by her grandfather in 1905, and has since had every kind of livestock and crop possible for a southeastern, Indiana farm, she said.
Belva still remembers when her family farmed with two horses, Ruby and Jack, because there were no tractors.
Belva said the farm had up to 70 cattle for the family’s dairy farm until a great tornado which ripped through the county in the 1970’s. Belva said she found drivers licenses in the fields from Kentucky and Ohio.
Belva walked to the town’s one-room school house until the eighth grade. She said she was the only the girl in her class, and she was quite the tomboy.
She was the only person who could climb the rope during gym class, and Belva also pitched on her softball team.
She would go to Greensburg High School, and became a graduate in 1939.
Belva’s family was well-off and instead of walking, her father would drive her to school. Lorin taught Belva how to drive, an accomplishment, Belva said, because not many women drove back then. She said her father didn’t teach her three sisters or her brother to drive.
Belva said that as a junior and senior in high school she helped her teacher, Miss Sullivan, balance money books and grade papers.
Belva’s yearbook picture was captioned with, “Speed demon at typing and shorthand,” Belva said. Such skills which would stay with her for a lifetime, because bookkeeping and numbers would be part of many of Belva’s future jobs.
Belva said she had wanted to go to college, but her teacher said she didn’t have anything left to learn. Belva would later take classes about small business, but never went to college because of her teacher’s advice.
Belva married Wendell Stapp Sept. 5, 1942.
The couple would eventually move to Moody Field, Ga. due to Wendell’s orders from the Air Force. Belva would continue balancing books for a company in Georgia until the Stapps returned to Indiana.
The Stapps also lived in Dayton, Ohio and Alabama due to Wendell's military orders. Belva and Wendell went on to start Custom Conveyor, Inc. These days, Belva still rents three houses, and for 13 years rented her home as a vacationing area for families seeking some country solitude.
Belva and Wendell had three daughters and one son together; Saundra Fry, Cathy Gully, Synthia League, and James "Jim" Stapp, proprietor of the popular vacation spot, Stapp's Circle S Ranch.
Her family has always been close, Belva said.
She and Wendell even celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary by taking the entire family to Hawaii. The family has traveled to Europe in the past, Belva said, and her grandchildren enjoy staying for weeks at a time at her farm to ride horses.
“I’ve never rode a horse, but I’ve rode a camel,” Belva joked as she shared stories about her travels.
Belva said she’s traveled to every continent except Antarctica and Australia.
“I’m just very, very thankful for my life,” said Belva.
Belva has also survived open heart surgery. “My get up and go hasn’t left me,” she said.
Belva described the key to living a good, long life this way: “You take one day at a time. And don’t judge anyone until you walk in their shoes.”
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