Brigadier General (MD, Retired) Virgil A. Stemple, 96, of Forest Hill, MD passed on to be with the Lord on April 2, 2023 due to complications from a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He had been a resident of Hart Heritage Assisted Living since September 2017. He is survived by his younger brother Terry L. Stemple (88), Virgil’s children, Philip Stemple, Kimberly Anne Stemple Barth, Matthew Stemple, daughter-in-law Pam Stemple and son-in-law Greg Barth, eight grandchildren (Rachel Woods, Andrea Stemple, Bradley Barth, Katy Barth, Hunter Stemple, Colton Stemple, Jacob Walter and Addison Walter) and three great grandchildren (Isabel Avey, Aedin Woods and Rylynn Woods). He was most recently preceded in death by his beloved wife of 62 years, Mary Anne Simons Stemple (83) in 2010, his grandson Tomas L. Avey (34) in 2015, and his older brother Earsel H. Stemple (96) in 2020.
Born in Philippi, WV on July 18, 1926, Virgil was the middle son of Glen Andrew Stemple and Oda (nee’ Murphy) Stemple, both West Virginians. His childhood was the rural, not always easy, but free life as a son of a coal miner father and a country mother who set standards of conduct for their sons and gave their all to their family and their commitments.
A World War II veteran, he was drafted during his senior year of high school into the U.S. Navy and served aboard the USS Adirondack. Following discharge in 1946, Virgil attended and graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and a minor in Physical Education in 1950.
In 1948 Virgil married Mary Anne Simons and for the next ten years they resided in Buckhannon, WV as Virgil engaged in various professional pursuits to include deputy sheriff, and owning a gasoline filling station. While Mary Anne worked as a dental assistant and was highly active in a host of civic organizations, Virgil played Semi-Pro baseball, became a Master Mason in Buckhannon Lodge #7 and continued his military career with over ten years of service in the West Virginia National Guard. After achieving the high enlisted rank of company First Sergeant, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry which entailed active duty at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Soon thereafter he was promoted to First Lieutenant.
The year 1958 found Virgil and Mary Anne moving to Baltimore, Maryland and beginning over half a century of very active life together in their adopted State. 49 of those years living in Edgewood, MD. Professionally, Virgil began a 29 year career with the Baltimore County Board of Education teaching at Parkville High School and Golden Ring Junior High and as a guidance counselor at Ridgely Junior High School. Going to night school over a five year period, he achieved a Master’s Degree in Education from Western Maryland college in 1970. He retired from that career in 1987.
On the personal side they built their family. First with Phil (b. 1960), then Kim (b. 1963) and finally Matt (b. 1967). Like Mary Anne, Virgil was highly active in the community. This included continuing his military service, coaching Little League baseball, building anything made of wood or masonry for neighbors to include back decks, patios, doll houses and most of all heavy involvement in Presbury United Methodist Church - being the Lay Leader of that church for a period of over 30 years.
Virgil’s military career progressed with service in the Maryland National Guard and the 29th Infantry Division and saw him promoted, in a 23 year period, from First Lieutenant to full Colonel and included active service during the Baltimore riots of the late ‘60s and a command tour as Commandant of the Maryland Military Academy. Retiring in 1981 he was soon back in uniform for another 10 plus years in the Maryland State Defense Force. First as a Brigade Commander and ultimately as the Commanding General of that force. This last chapter of service saw his promotion to Brigadier General (Maryland). All told, beginning in 1944, Virgil served his country and his state over 50 years and his community even longer. His leadership was defined by example, by a broad view, by what was the responsibility entailed the job one was entrusted with, and by always putting people first.
People of all walks of life instinctively turned to Virgil Stemple for wise counsel, for practical solutions to real life problems, for a wry sense of humor, for a listening ear and most of all for a sympathetic heart.
Surely, God has now said to Virgil Stemple: ”Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:23).
Pallbearers will be Philip Stemple, Matthew Stemple, Greg Barth, Bradley Barth, Hunter Stemple, and Colton Stemple.
Contributions may be made to: Rally Against Parkinson's PO Box 221, Bel Air, MD. 21014
Following the services a luncheon will be held at location to be determined.