Loretto Chappell was born in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 11, 1895. She was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Harris Chappell. Dr. Chappell, her father, was the first president of Georgia Normal & Industrial College. She later attended school there and went on to obtain her master's degree from Richmond School of Social Work at William and Mary College. She held several jobs which included teaching and welfare services. She also worked with the Traveler's Aid in Detroit, Michigan, for three years.
She returned to Georgia and worked for the Child Welfare Association of Fulton and DeKalb Counties. She eventually became the official Child Welfare Director for the state. In 1951, while serving as director, she signed a letter in support of Committee on Fair Employment Practices, and this coupled with her membership in the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, led Representative Bush Mims to label her a "Red." The subsequent controversy led many prominent Georgians from across the political spectrum to support Chappell.
Chappell died on May 2, 1990. She was survived by her sister, Cornelia Chappell, of Decatur, Georgia. She is buried in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia.