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A full life: Muriel Staley

Staff Reporter | February 3, 2023 5:05 AM

PINEHURST — To live to be 99 is an accomplishment on its own, as the chaotic nature of life and the trajectory it moves toward is inevitable.

“The foghorn momentarily deafened us blowing its salutation to other craft, as we neared New York harbor. Our sea journey was nearing its end and as we disembarked this Queen of liners I realized I was severing the last tie to my native land,” wrote Muriel Staley.

Staley, a Shoshone County resident, will be turning 100 years old next month.

The letter recalls her emotions about leaving Sheffield, England, and moving to the United States with her firstborn child.

It now acts as a memory, capsuled in time, to help Muriel remember her life story over the past (almost) century.

Muriel was a bit of a rebel growing up, recalling a story of going to a catholic school in England.

“My friends were asking if I would jump over the tennis net in my school uniform. And I did it. There’s a picture of me jumping halfway over the net. There’s proof out there.”

Muriel was living in Sheffield when she met the love of her life, Bob Staley, a member of the U.S. Air Force, who was stationed overseas.

“I was in a tram car,” she explained. “He was on the same tram as I was, with another man sitting in front of me. When we were getting off the bus, he reached around, and said, ‘hey, will you marry me?' I thought he was pretty silly. But I ended up marrying him.”

The Staleys were married in England on Dec. 23, 1944, and after Bob was honorably discharged from the Air Force, the decision was made to return to the United States.

Muriel, firstborn cradled in her arms, boarded the giant ship on it’s way to the state of Washington.

“I watched the White Cliffs of Dover, and my parents on the dock fade away, as the tranquil sea, my friend, calmed my turmoiled mind,” wrote Staley of the experience.

The Staley’s eventually moved to the Silver Valley in 1956, where they would have two more daughters; Peggy, and Patty along with their firstborn, Jean.

The two were married for 76 years before Bob’s passing at 96 in 2019.

Muriel enjoys playing games, specifically Scrabble, which might be another reason she can keep her mind so sharp.

“My mom played Scrabble every Tuesday for 35 years,” explained her daughter, Peggy Johnston. “She played with a couple other ladies, and they were good. No one else was ever asked to join, because they couldn’t keep up with them.”

Muriel’s longevity could also be tied to genetics, as her father lived to be 108.

“I remember he was always moving,” Muriel said. “Even towards his old age, he would take his tea and walk down the road and back.”

Muriel kept moving, taking yoga classes, before moving from her home to assisted living at Pacifica Senior Living in Pinehurst.

Muriel’s 100th birthday is March 6, and the entire family, including her three daughters, seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren, are all planning to join together and celebrate.

“She didn’t have any plans,” said her daughter, Peggy, with a smile. “But I do.”