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Where are they now? Carlotta Stanley

In Forward in Christ, we report the news but aren’t always able to follow up. “Where are they now?” is our way of giving you the rest of the story.

In September 2015, Forward in Christ printed a story written by Marietta Chapman about her mother, Carlotta Stanley, who grew up on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Bylas, Ariz., in the 1950s and 60s. Carlotta found peace and comfort from attending Bylas Lutheran Church and School. Her life was shaped by WELS missionaries and teachers who brought God’s Word to Apacheland. As Carlotta noted, “If WELS never brought God’s Word to Apacheland, I would be a lost soul.”

After high school, Carlotta married Wilfred Stanley, and they had six children—four daughters and two sons. As Marietta wrote, “Carlotta always took her children to church. All her children graduated from Bylas Lutheran Mission School.”

in home confirmation 3 people
Carlotta Stanley and her husband, Wilfred, served as witnesses for an in-home confirmation just days before Carlotta went to heaven. Carlotta brought the ill young woman a bouquet so she would always remember her confirmation day.

So where is Carlotta now?

On May 10, 2021, Carlotta was involved in a three-vehicle car accident that took her home to heaven. Her story from Forward in Christ was read at her funeral because, as Marietta said, her mom was so proud of the article and displayed it in her room.

Debbie Dietrich, a teacher at Peridot-Our Savior’s, Peridot, Ariz., and whose husband, Joe, is pastor at Our Savior, Bylas, knew Carlotta well. “Carlotta served God humbly and well in her homeland, the Apache Reservation,” says Dietrich.

Dietrich details how Carlotta spent her last weekend making bouquets of flowers with friend Cecilia Dillon to hand out on Mother’s Day Sunday. Carlotta added cards with Scripture to each bouquet. Even after church that Sunday as her family gathered at her home to honor her, Carlotta and Cecilia were busy taking more bouquets to the shut-ins and ladies who hadn’t been to church for a while.

“She always put Christ’s work first,” notes Dietrich, “for it was Christ Jesus who saved her and gave her her gifts, like her dear family.”

Dietrich says that Carlotta loved children and had a special heart for those growing up like she did—in dysfunctional homes with grown-ups often drunk or high. The children on the church’s road who are growing up like that often wander over to church and hang out at the Dietrichs’ home, eating dinner and playing, painting, and coloring like Carlotta did at her pastor’s home when she was a child.

Carlotta and Wilfred Stanley's family
Carlotta and Wilfred Stanley with their children and grandchildren near Mount Turnbull in Bylas, Ariz.

“When I felt discouraged by their behavior or how hard their circumstances were, Carlotta prayed for me and encouraged me to never give up for there were people and a pastor and his wife who never ever gave up helping her,” says Dietrich. “They changed her life by sharing Jesus’ love in practical and spiritual ways. Just last Sunday, seven children walked to our house to go to church with me, just as Carlotta had prayed for.”

Marietta says that Carlotta’s most memorable event took place in June 2018 at the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society convention in Green Bay, Wis. She attended the convention with many other Apache ladies, who formed a choir to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Apache mission.

“She could read, write, and translate in Apache,” says Marietta. “She enjoyed helping to translate Bible passages and hymns in the Apache language. Her next project was to teach the ladies choir the song ‘How Great Thou Art’ in Apache. The Lutheran ladies of Peridot, San Carlos, Whiteriver, and Bylas all got together for her funeral and sang ‘How Great Thou Art’ in Apache to honor Carlotta and the family.”

Read Marietta Chapman’s original article on Carlotta Stanley. Learn how to make Indian tacos from Carlotta and her daughter-in-law, LizaTina Stanley, in this cooking video from WELS Taste of Missions in July 2020.

Volume 108, Number 11
Issue: November 2021

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