William A. Harper

Harper, William A.
passed away on April 15, 2013 at the age of 85. Originally from Boston, MA he was preceded in death by three wives: Claire, Patricia and Jin He. He leaves five daughters and their husbands and one son: Chris Harper-Fahey and husband Fred from Jamaica Plain, MA; Kathleen Harper from Southbridge, MA; Priscilla Senecal and husband Wayne from Upton, MA; Pat Wallace and husband Marty from Catskill, NY; Bonnie Jean Harper from Rosenberg, TX; and William M. Harper from Medway, MA. He also leaves seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren all on the East Coast. Mr. Harper served in the US Navy from 1944 to 1952 seeing action in WW II in the South Pacific with Air Group 85 and in Korea. He received two Purple Hearts medals and one Air Medal. He also took part in two atomic tests at Bikini in the Marshall Islands in 1946. In 1952, Mr. Harper contracted polio. He always believed this occurred because of his exposure to ionizing radiation from the atomic tests. As the result of the polio, Mr. Harper became paralyzed in one arm and one leg. However, his disabilities never limited his desire to be of service to others. Mr. Harper spent the next 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 Veterans. His most profound legacy and commitment was in service to all veterans. Mr. Harper started many Veterans' Chapters throughout the country. 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 to the disabled, children, and veterans. A Memorial Service is planned on Thursday, April 18, 2013(TODAY) at the Sun Lakes Chapel, 9230 North Sun Lakes Blvd., Sun Lakes, AZ. 85248 at 11:00 am followed by a light luncheon. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Phoenix Children's Hospital, 1919 East Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85016.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 18, 2013