Remembering Annie MacRae Stapp

Remembering Annie MacRae Stapp

Vienna resident and GI bride dies.

Annie MacRae Stapp was always on the move. In 1943, as part of the Women’s Royal Naval Service ("Wrens"), Stapp traveled from Elgin, Scotland to the United States by ship. Sixty years later, she was still a traveler who could be found on any given day walking from her house on Park Street to the grocery store, the library or the Vienna Community Center.

"She walked to Magruder’s, walked to the store, walked to the library, walked to the doctor’s," said Joyce Swinnea, Stapp’s friend and fellow member of the Transatlantic Brides & Parents Association (TBPA). "She loved to walk."

"Driving down Park Street, I would see this lady in sneakers, with a hat on her head, just marching down for all she was worth," said TBPA chair Rita Lockwood.

Stapp’s husband Larry agreed. "Ann was always taking walks," he said. "She was pretty busy."

Stapp remained busy until her death of cancer on July 25, as a member of Vienna’s chapter of the TBPA, the Vienna Woman’s Club, and the Vienna Arts Society, which she helped found.

Stefania Nielson of the Vienna Woman’s Club remembered how Stapp would bake scones for the club’s English tea. Stapp also chaired bake sales and the Harvest luncheon.

"She did an enormous amount of work for the club," said Nielson. "She was a sweet, kind and caring person, and she was my friend. She really was."

STAPP ONCE said that she had not planned on staying in the U.S. for long, said Swinnea. But a few months after she arrived, the events in her life took a different turn.

Stapp, then Annie MacRae, was stationed at Roosevelt Field in Long Island working on planes. On the way to the mess hall one day, she and the other Wrens passed by the American soldiers, one of them Larry Stapp, who was a photographer for the U.S. Navy.

"We didn’t have much to do one day, so we were sitting in the hangar, and this group of British Wrens walked by, and I saw Annie," said Larry Stapp. "She stood out from the rest. She looked different, acted different. She was different."

Larry Stapp convinced a British sailor to introduce him to MacRae ("I wasn’t sure how those British girls liked being approached by strangers," he said), and three weeks later, he proposed.

MacRae married Larry Stapp in November of that same year. She was 22.

Ann Gratz of the TBPA described how, after the Stapps were married and Larry was transferred to Annapolis, he would go visit her in Long Island on the weekends. He would take a train, a bus, and run the last 5 miles to see her, said Gratz.

The Stapps settled in Vienna in 1955 and raised two daughters, Marianne, who lives in Tennessee, and Barbara, who lived in Florida until her death in 2000. They spent the next 50 years in the town, but Annie Stapp never forgot her Scottish roots.

"Annie made the most wonderful Scottish shortbread," said Swinnea.

At a party a few years ago for Swinnea and her husband, said Lockwood, Annie danced more than anyone else there.

"She loved to dance so much," said Gratz. "And when she would greet you, she would be absolutely delighted to see you, as if you were the best thing that ever happened to her."

"We had a good life together," said Larry Stapp. "We were married for 61 years, which is a lot longer than most folks. I appreciate the time we spent."