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Obituary Condolences

HARPER, William A. "Bill" 40 Year Activist for Veterans Passed quietly on Patriot's Day, 2013, at the age of 85. Mr. Harper is a former resident of Ashland, MA who resided in Sun Lakes, AZ for the past 40 years. He is survived by his five daughters and one son: Christine and Frederic Fahey of Jamaica Plain; Kathleen Harper of Southbridge; Priscilla & Wayne Senecal of Upton; Patricia and Martin Wallace of Catskill, NY; Bonnie Harper of Rosenberg, TX; and William M. Harper of Medway. He is also survived by one brother and two sisters: John Harper of Scotsdale, AZ; Priscilla Gimple of White Lake, Michigan; and Edith Ross of Sneedville, TN and seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Mr. Harper served in the US Navy from 1944 to 1952 receiving two Purple Heart medals and one Air Medal. He took part in two atomic tests at Bikini in the Marshall Islands in 1946 and in 1952. Mr. Harper contracted polio, a condition he always believed was caused by exposure to ionizing radiation from the atomic tests. Afflicted with polio, Mr. Harper became paralyzed in one arm and one leg. However, his limitations never limited his desire to be of service to others. Mr. Harper was a lifelong activist committed to children, the physically disabled, and Veterans. He spent the past fifty years volunteering for many organizations including the March of Dimes; Arizona Bridge to Independent Living; the AZ Governor's Commission for Employment for the Handicapped; and local, state and national Veterans Organizations. His most profound legacy and commitment was in service to all Veterans. Mr. Harper started many Veterans' Chapters throughout the country including the VFW Post in Ashland, MA. He became National Officer of the Veterans; served on the AZ State Veterans Service Commission; and helped to start the National Atomic Veterans Organization. Mr. Harper is a Member of the Arizona Veteran's Hall of Fame. He has visited the White House on two occasions and has received over 60 plaques and 200 citations for his service and volunteer work. A Funeral Mass is planned on Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church, 54 Esty Street, Ashland, MA followed by a brunch at the Ashland VFW Post, 311 Pleasant Street, Ashland. William A. Harper will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Phoenix Children's Hospital, 1919 East Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016.
Published in The Boston Globe on May 22, 2013
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