John Jeppson '38
Deceased February 10, 2013
View Jep as a Renaissance Man, a modern knight embodying qualities idealized in The Courtier, Castiglione’s 16th century classic. Well born, college soccer captain, Harvard MBA, WWII naval officer, CEO industrialist, civic leader and philanthropist. He also blossomed as a master gardener and, in his 90s, as a published raconteur with a whimsical touch.
In his 2008 memoir, Making Hay, Tales from Oakholm Farm, Jep brings you into his life with wit and panache. Oakholm, beautiful acreage in Brookfield, MA, was the family farm. Over generations, as the Swedish-American Jeppsons prospered in Worcester, manufacturing abrasives, they also farmed commercially and frolicked in their mansion overlooking a sizeable lake.
Swedish royalty and American dignitaries like Calvin Coolidge visited there. For the Class of 1938, the place glowed as the site of our 65th reunion in 2003. Who could forget wife Marianne’s tasty Chippewa soup? Or the library lined with books of her father, Samuel Shellabarger, renowned author of such historical fiction as The Prince of Foxes?
Five years later, Jep was one of three alums who attended our 70th reunion and he had looked forward to joining any who might come to our 75th in 2013. But he died Feb. 10.
In its obit, the Worcester Telegram noted that some people called Jep “a true gentleman” and others “a colorful old troll who wore many hats.” I think of him cultivating his farm and garden and delighting in a pair of rare American eagles that nested in a tree and brought forth an eaglet.
Jep cherished a Japanese maple our class gave him and he warmly kept us informed of its growth. It remains now as a remembrance for Marianne, his wife of 66 years; a sister, three surviving children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
George Bria ’38
My social and civic consciousness such that it
is had many of its roots at our college. Fraternity
administration, helping flood victims in the
Connecticut Valley, raising fun1s for various
causes and events, glee club, dances, dates - all
Finally, there were the friends we made and still
have. Tlhose closest to me at Amherst I rarely see
but when I do, it is as if the intervening years
had never existed.
All in all the Amherst years were for me a very
necessary preparation and foundation for these 50
years and hopefully a few more.
Life is presently for me just as much of a challenge
as it has always been. Though my business
career has just about ended, my life on a farm in
Brookfield, MA is full of new fields to conquer --
gardening, environmental problems, town affairs,
breeding draft horses, coping with visits from the
grandchildren, all take an inordinate amount of
time. And I still have an office of my own in
Worcester in order to relieve Marianne (my wife) of
my continual presence at home and to enable me to
continue to cope with eleemosynary interests -
museum, performing arts, education, etc. Tennis
is my major sport. It has been and still is a
good life as far as I'm concerned.
My interest in Amherst is still there rut on the
whole I have worked for local institutions which
needed far more help than our well organized, well
endowed alma mater.