Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Willard Hollister Leeper 1911 - 1997

Willard Leeper was born January, 19, 1911 in Pleasanton, Decatur, Iowa. Bud's father Joseph Emmitt Leeper Jr 1887-1970 and his his mother Belva Hester Hollister 1888 - 1966 worked in the insurance business and ran the local post office. In their later years they retired to Tucson. Steve remembers visiting them in Arizona and driving to Nogales, Mexico for dinner in a Mexican restaurant. Bud (the only name anyone ever called him by) attended Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa for 2 years and then transferred to the University of Iowa where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in business. He was always a Hawkeye! Years later I visited that area of Iowa and discovered the RLDS Church owned Graceland College and the Mormon trail was about 3 miles from Pleasanton. If my dad knew that, he never spoke of it. That probably explains why his parents were not too happy with him when he married a Mormon from Utah.
Vera Cotterell was born February 1, 1914 in Farmington, Utah. Vera's ancestors lived across the street from Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. She was active in the church her whole life. Vera was the 8th of 9 children and was very close to her 4 brothers and 4 sisters. She went to the University of Utah and LDS Business college and was awesome at taking shorthand and typing.
Her brother Don went on a mission to New Zealand where his mission president was Matthew Cowley. On his way home he stopped in Hawaii and thought it might be a good place to visit instead of the cold winters in Salt Lake. He liked it so much he decided to stay there. He invited his sister Vera to come and stay. She got a job in the secretary pool. On the boat over to Hawaii she met Bud Leeper. They saw each other in Honolulu.
On December 7, 1941 Vera was listening to the Tabernacle Choir. During the broadcast she heard bombs bursting. This was a common occurrence at the time because the military was always practicing their bombing skills. But on this day the radio program was interrupted to say, "We are under attack by the Japanese!" Immediately the city went into a blackout. The ships were destroyed but fortunately the aircraft carriers were at sea. If they had been in the harbor that day the war might have ended differently. Vera took the first ship allowed to travel back to the states. She later returned to Hawaii. Bud was working for the Army Corp of Engineers at that time. They were reacquainted and were married October 25, 1944 in Honolulu Hawaii.
The next year Steve was born in Queen's Hospital in Honolulu They lived in a small home across from the only hotel on the beach at Waikiki called the Royal Hawaiian. Vera took Steve to the beach often as an infant and he got plenty of sun. When Steve was 11 months old they came back to Utah. They lived in several places in Salt Lake and in Blackfoot, Idaho. Ron was born in Salt Lake City in 1947.
They moved to Glendale in 1952 and attended the Glendale West Ward. The cost of living in California necessitated that Vera work full-time. That first summer Steve and Ron traveled to Salt Lake via the train. They lived with their cousins, aunts and uncles and both have great memories of summers in Utah.
Vera took the boys to church each week and sometimes Budjoined them. Bud decided to be baptized in 1955.
Bud worked in the plumbing business in Utah and Idaho and again in California. He did not perform plumbing, but managed the warehouses. He became an expert in parts. Bud always said that the best faucets were made by Chicago Faucets. As a teenager Steve remembers driving the 1958 MG Magnette down to the office and warehouse where Bud worked and cleaned the office, toilet and ash trays and swept the warehouse
Bud and Vera bought their first home in 1962 at 1816 Cleveland Road. It was a small two bedroom home with one bath. The house was on the 2nd floor above the garage below. Steve and Ron played basketball on the uneven cement to the side of the home. The yard was covered with lots of ivy and many avocado trees. We found out later that the house was originally the maid's quarters for the large home next door.
Kent Gardiner fondly remembers Bud Leeper as the ward usher. He met you at the door of the chapel with a fist full of programs. He smiled, greeted you, surveyed the congregation and escorted you to your seat. Sometimes he moved people over so late-comers could sit on the aisles. It was always very formal, very dignified. It made you feel special and started off Sacrament Meeting the right way.
Tad Callister asked them to work in the Family History Library at the Los Angeles Temple. They served there for six months and Bud worked hard to be ready to enter the Temple. The first time he went to the temple the Presidency member invited them into the chapel to prepare them for the upcoming ceremony and gave them some advice. "Life is a race, but it doesn't matter who is first or who is last. As long as you complete the race you win. The family was sealed in 1985 in the Los Angeles Temple.
After retirement they moved to Encinitas, California to live near Ron. Bud had 4 or 5 episodes of being on his death-bed before finally succumbing to heart disease on October 5, 1997.

Willard Leeper, Graceland College, Lamoni Iowa, 1929



1985 Los Angeles Temple