James Lepkowski (T-1)

Sept 16,1940- Nov 4, 2006

Jim Lepkowski, 66, of Torrox, Spain, formerly of East Templeton, died unexpectedly on November 4, 2006 in Spain.  He was born September 16, 1940, son of Helmi (Wauhkonen) and the late Henry Lepkowski, who passed away in 1981.

Jim was an outstanding leader and athlete who graduated from Narragansett Regional High School where he was class president and a star player for both the baseball and basketball teams.  While at Clark University he served as president of both his class and fraternity and graduated with a degree in International Relations followed by a Masters degree in Education and later a Masters degree in International Educational Administration from the University of Denver.

From 1962-64, he served in the Peace Corps and was stationed in Turkey.  This was followed by his life work as an educator and administrator in Iran, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  He worked for Bechtel in Saudi Arabia where he consulted on the schools in the new city of Jubail.  Later he was the administrator of the Al-Hussan Academy Schools in both Dhahran and Jubail, Saudi Arabia.  Jim was beloved by both students and staff wherever he worked. 

Prior to retiring in California and Spain he also resided in Keene, NH where he operated an import/export business.

Retiring in 2004, Jim and his wife Jean, who were married in 1964, toured the United States for six months visiting friends made around the world before retiring in Torrox, where they enjoyed an active social life. He was recently elected president of the American Club of Costa del Sol in Spain.

Jim is survived by his wife Jean (Senger), who plans to continue to live in Torrox; a son Craig and his wife Robin, their two children Jackson and Bryce, from Lake Forest, Illinois; a daughter, Pamela, from Somerville, MA; his mother, Helmi who lives in Gardner; brothers David and his wife Pauline and Richard and his wife Ann, both from Gardner; several nieces and nephews and his close, extended family; mother-in-law, Inez from Florida; brother-in-law, Jerry and his wife, Nancy, from Maine and sister-in-law, Lois and her husband Peter, from California.

Jim loved gourmet cooking and discussing world politics and also had a passion for world travel and a genuine interest and love for the people he met along the way.  He was a loving person, husband, father, brother, son, grandfather, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and friend. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him but his legacy of humor, love and caring will live on in the wonderful memories shared by all who knew him.  

Jim’s many new friends attended a memorial service in Malaga, Spain.  Another memorial service is planned for December 16, 2006 at noon, which will be held at the Colonial Hotel in Gardner. Jim’s ashes will be scattered on Cape Cod, his favorite vacation spot. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Peace Corps or to a favorite charity.         — submitted by Jim’s wife, Jean

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On December 16 I drove up to north-central Massachusetts, to Gardner, Jim Lepkowski’s home town. The occasion was a memorial celebration for Jim.

Jim was in Kastamonu in 62-63, then (according to our Directory, for I had forgotten) in Ankara at METU his second year. I did not see him for 38 years after that, until our 40th anniversary trip back to Turkey in 2002. He looked, naturally, unchanged in all that time. In the interim he found out that he liked running schools in far-off lands, and spent most of his time alternating between such assignments abroad and interim respites here in the States. Most recently he was in Spain, where he did not come home from a routine operation.

The occasion was an occasion. There were at least 300 people there, mostly relatives and friends from that area, people who knew Jim growing up, working in the local stores, playing football and baseball in high school, leaving for college in nearby Worcester, then leaving to spend the rest of his life out in the world, but coming back time and again to renew his relationship with his place and his people. There was a strong reflection of Jim in the reminiscences of the people who were there.

A few mentioned his time in Turkey, as the event that shaped the arc of the rest of his life. Many mentioned the value he placed, as we all have, in being abroad, seeing the world, knowing the world some better for the experience.

Jean was there, and naturally was extremely busy just saying hello to everybody.

 David Hopkins

Association of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Friends of Turkey