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