Myrtle Bonner Tarpley, 88, of Leesburg, GA died on Sunday, January 19, 2020 at the Phoenix Senior Living Community.
Visitation was held at 10 a.m. Thursday, January 23 at Covenant Presbyterian Church. Reverend William (Biff) officiated at the funeral service at 11 a.m. Interment was at 2 p.m. at the Andersonville National Cemetery, in Andersonville, GA.
Myrtle was born in Buckhead, Georgia to Louis Gary Bonner and Iris Marie (Alford) Bonner. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband Marshall Lamar “Chief” Tarpley in 2006; and siblings Ruby Jo Nunn, Carroll Bonner, Bill Bonner, Sr, and Winston Bonner.
She is survived by her three children Marshall L. Tarpley, Jr., Port Aransas, Texas; Beverly Tarpley Lorig (Tyler), Fairfield, Vir.; Gary B. Tarpley, Leesburg, GA.; granddaughter Briana Phelps, Panama City, Fla.; great-grandson Gabriel Phelps, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and sister Barbara Bonner Whitley (William), Buckhead, GA as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Myrtle graduated in 1947 from Madison High School, Madison on her 16th birthday and began the following week what would be a 30 year career with Southern Bell. Living in a boarding house in Madison, she joined a select group of young women hired to be the long-distance operators dialing and connecting customers with this new 24-hour service.
In 1952 she married Marshall Lamar Tarpley, US Navy WWII submariner, and moved to Charleston, S.C. where he was stationed. She continued to work with Southern Bell until the birth of their first child, Marshall in 1954. Throughout Lamar’s career, Myrtle managed the household, raised the children and made all of the arrangements to relocate the family to the various Naval stations including: Waukegan, Ill.; New London, Conn., Portsmouth, Vir.; Charleston, S.C. and Albany, GA in 1962.
Myrtle returned to work with Southern Bell in 1964 when all of her children were in school. Always ready for a challenge, she advanced to positions with a focus on new business customers who were now implementing the latest technology – telephone switchboards. She travelled Southwest Georgia training staff, switchboard operators and managers. In the early 70’s she was asked to join a team of six women, dressed in identical outfits, including white Go Go boots, as the regional marketing team to introduce and demystify the use of “direct dial” to communities, businesses, government offices, schools, and service organizations.
Working through the breakup of “Ma Bell”, the creation of Bell South, AT&T, Lucent, Nokia, etc., Myrtle retired after 30+ years. Shortly after retiring she accepted a position with Zygamsavick marketing group in Albany. For over five years she conducted customer surveys and focus groups, quality-control interviews for major fast-food groups including McDonald’s and numerous providers of consumer products ranging from chewing tobacco to magazines to rental furniture.
Myrtle was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church. The Circle of Hope, one of Covenant’s women’s groups, was a joy in her life the past 10 years. She was moderator for the group and thrived in leading the lessons on topics such as the world-wide crisis for clean water, sex trafficking, and world hunger. Together the Circle of Hope studied the impact of world hunger and successfully raised the funds to purchase goats and chickens through the Heifer Project in Africa. She the Rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel of Albany to speak about the local Jewish community and celebrations
unique to the Jewish faith. Myrtle was active in Covenant’s Tuesday Sewing group creating blankets for the newborns in the Phoebe Putney maternity ward and the Friday Breakfast fellowship group.
Myrtle was blessed with very special friends who cared for her with tenderness and compassion over the past year. They raised her spirits, laughed at her stories, joined in completing beautiful puzzles, played competitive pick-up-sticks and encouraged her to practice her favorite songs on the piano each day. Her life and the lives of the Tarpley family were enriched. Thank you to Joyce Waller and her sister Helen Allen, Joycelyn Moment, Kayla Huffman, Veronica Fudge, Charlotte Crimes, Shankel Bronner and the Presbyterian Circle of Hope ladies, the Albany Willson House Hospice staff and the Phoenix Senior Living Community of caregivers.
In place of flowers, donations may be made to the Covenant Presbyterian Church-Wells for Africa Project or the Willson House Hospice in Albany.