Mr. Tapley moved to Washington in 1953 to join the law department of Southern Railway and eventually rose to the position of vice president-law.
After Southern Railway merged with the Norfolk & Western Railway in 1982, Mr. Tapley became vice president and Washington counsel of the combined company, Norfolk Southern. He retired in 1987.
Mr. Tapley was born in Greenville, Miss., and grew up on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces as a flying meteorologist. He made weather reconnaissance flights between England and the Azores to forecast weather for Allied bombings of military targets in Western Europe.
After the war, he received a bachelor&squo;s degree in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He also received a law degree from UNC in 1950. After law school, he married and settled in Tryon.
Mr. Tapley, who went by Jim or James L., was known as &dquo;a wonderful storyteller with an irresistible laugh,&dquo; his family said.
He was a duplicate bridge player, with the rank of life master, and a longtime member of the Chevy Chase Club. He also was an opera enthusiast and held season tickets to the Washington National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House in London.
He and his wife were frequent visitors to England, where they have maintained a residence in the Close of Salisbury Cathedral since 1985.
After living in Chevy Chase for 30 years and Georgetown for 12, the couple moved in 1996 to Maplewood Park Place, a
retirement community in Bethesda.
Mr. Tapley spent several years writing a two-volume book, &dquo;Mississippi Memoir&dquo; (2007).
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Priscilla Moore Tapley of Bethesda; four daughters, Lane Tapley of Silver Spring, Taylor Daly of Atlanta, Cameron Tapley of Dunwoody, Ga., and Meredith Gordon of Bethesda; a son, James Clark Tapley of Damascus; and eight grandchildren.
The funeral service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on Sept. 19. If desired, donations may be made to the Myositis Association, 1233 20th St., N.W. Suite 402, Washington, DC, 20036.
‐ paid obituary