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Piece of Mind: Les Tupper is a man worth remembering

May 16, 2012|By Carol Cormaci

A question popped up in the newsroom the other day: Who was Les Tupper and why is there a community service award named after him? It was well-timed question, since the annual Tupper Awards, as they've come to be known locally, were handed out Monday evening by the La Cañada Flintridge Coordinating Council. This year's winners were Barbara Weber, Randy Strapazon, Kathryn Battaglia, Alex Keledjian, the La Cañada Baseball Softball Assn. and the Flintridge Riding Club.

I felt badly about not knowing more about the man behind this prestigious community award, so I started tracking down more information. I spoke on the phone to Coordinating Council members Sue Beatty and Bob Covey on Tuesday. Both of those individuals, by the way, are past recipients of Tupper Awards and have impressive credentials themselves. But neither of them had volunteered alongside Tupper, so they couldn't give me first-hand reports on him.

I hunted through bound volumes of old Valley Suns. In the September 1968 news obituary prepared after he died of a heart attack while driving along Linda Vista Avenue in Pasadena, Tupper was called “everybody's friend.” The report went on to say he “carried such convictions in his life's walk and never hesitated to use them in his vast spectrum of civic betterment work within his home community.”

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Leslie C. Tupper was born in Joliet, Ill. on Dec. 3, 1907 and moved to La Cañada in 1954. He'd earned his law degree at Southwestern University and was a partner in the Los Angeles firm of Lawler, Felix & Hall. He and his family (wife, Helen and son, Tom) lived on an oak-shaded property near Descanso Gardens.

In 1956 Les Tupper was elected to the school board, a post he held for six years. In February 1962 he was awarded an honorary life membership in the combined La Cañada PTAs. By June of that year he had been installed president of the Coordinating Council. He announced that the council's 1962-63 efforts would be centered on creating a youth employment center, conducting a recreational facility survey and establishing a Foster Home Finding Study Committee.

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