Leon Tulper, a WW II veteran, concentration camp liberator and respected watch and jewelry repair shop owner, passed away April 8, 2019, after a valiant battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Rabbi Yaakov Chaitovsky officiated at the April 10 graveside service at Mt. Nebo Cemetery. Shalom Funeral Service made the arrangements.
Mr. Tulper — known as Lee to family and friends — was born March 2, 1925 in Kansas City, Mo., to Isadore and Dena Tulper.
In 1936, the family, including Mr. Tulper’s late brother Ted, moved to Denver where Isadore opened Tulper Watch Co.
After graduating North High, Lee attended DU until he enlisted in the Army Air Corp.
He became a radio operator for Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, 65th Division during the Battle of the Bulge.
Mr. Tulper was one of the first liberators of Ohrdruf, the first Nazi camp liberated by US forces. The images he saw haunted him for the rest of his life.
“This little Jewish, starving boy cried and cried,” he told the IJN in an interview published May 23, 2014. “I can’t get that look on his face out of my system.”
Mr. Tulper received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his actions during the war. Proud of his country, he never considered himself a hero.
“Who thinks of himself as a hero?” he told the IJN. “There were 18 million guys in the Army. One person is not a hero.”
Mr. Tulper married Joy Rogell, also from Kansas City, in 1946. They were happily married for 61 years until her death in February, 2007.
After the war, Mr. Tulper joined the family business, which gave him the necessary training and experience to open his own business. In 1952, he became the owner of Tulper Watch Company.
Despite name changes over the years, his basic philosophy remained unchanged: hire anyone, regardless of their race, color or national origins as long as they could do the job; treat everyone equally and respectfully; and operate the business with honesty and integrity.
Upon closing the company in 2015, Mr. Tulper spoke to elementary school children, active duty soldiers and different organizations about his war experiences.
The family said that being able to talk about that time in his life, particularly to children, was a high point for him.
“He kvelled over his grandchildren and grandchildren, who were a major focus of his life,” the family said. “He relished all the time he spent with them and did so as often as he could, from monthly dinners with all the Tulper boys to lunches and dinners with the others.
“He often said how lucky he was to be able to live to see his great-grandchildren and even watch one of them, J.T., learn to drive.”
An active member of the Masonic community, Mr. Tulper belonged to the Jewelry Industry Distributors Assn. and the Watchmakers Distributors Assn. of America.
Leon “Lee” Tulper is survived by his children Bob (Norma) Tulper and Carrie (David) Alexrod; grandchildren Mitch (Lauren), Shaun (Jennifer) and Leland (Allison) Tulper and Evan (Michelle) and Brandon (Denise) Axelrod; and great-grandchildren J.T. and Sam Axelrod, Tahlia, Taelyn, Elijah, Jose and Autumn Tulper.
Contributions may be made to Disabled American Veterans, American Cancer Society or American Diabetes Assn.
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