Leo Harper’s Life Celebration
Leo Harper was born July 20, 1920, to the parents of Tom and Masuria Fedrick-Harper in Atlanta, (Cass County) Texas. Leo was the youngest of seven children born to this union. His parents and all his siblings: Rayfield and Spenser Harper, Luevine Harper-James, Herbert Harper, Bessie Harper-White and Leslie Harper, preceded him in death.
Leo Harper attended Shiloh Community School near Linden, Texas and completed the 8th grade. He professed Christ at an early age and attended Spring Hill C.M.E. Church.
He was drafted by the United States Army at age18 and served four years during World War II. Leo operated 2-ton vehicles over rough terrain during the war and was honored for his knowledge and repair of those vehicles. During his Service, Leo received numerous honors including: Campaign Medals with 4-Bronze Stars, 3-Good Conduct Medals with Service Stripes and 5-Overseas Service Bars and a honorable discharge.
Returning to civilian life after completion of his military service in 1945, Leo Harper returned home to be near his Mother. Blending with the community, Leo met blatant racism. After his first racial altercation, he purchased a new Dynoflo Buick and headed to California. He made his home in Bakersfield, California.
In 1947, Leo Harper married Ms. Rosie Mae Garner. The couple later moved to Los Angeles. To this union, three children were born: Shirley, Irie Lee, and Carolyn Harper.
Leo was never idle and he never met a stranger. He loved people. His friends affectionately named him “Bakersfield Red” because he owned a red truck that he personally painted and used for frequent travels to and forth to Bakersfield. Leo was fun-loving and a business professional. He became the first Negro heavy equipment operator with the International Union of Operating Engineers of Pasadena, Local 12. Despite being a segregated union, Leo’s personal experience, savvy and physique, leveraged his way into membership of Local 12. His acclaimed contributions in heavy equipment operations were: digging the foundations of the Martin Luther King Hospital and several elementary schools within the Watts/Firestone area.
Leo Harper retired and travelled extensively throughout the United States with his granddaughter, Omekia and wife, Dorothy Harper (preceded him in death). In the 1980’s, he stopped travelling and frequented parks to socialize with his friends and park patrons. He was loved by all that met him. His spirit was so real.
Leo leaves to cherish his special life’s memories: his devoted two daughters, Shirley Scott (Ezra) of Downey and Carolyn Harper (Ken) of Los Angeles, (his son-Irie Lee Harper preceded him in death); five grandchildren, Omekia Harris, Tito and Shyrie Harper, Myron Scott and Nicoya Clark; seventeen great- grandchildren, a loving niece, Phyllis Cunningham & special nephew Herbert Garner, a Goddaughter, Tulisa White, a dear friend Dorothy Belle, and a host of other nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.
July 13, 2013 • 1:00 P.M.
Rev. Ronnie Hillman