Leading lady Leila Crapper dies at 90

Leila Crapper at the Harmony Harvest Talent Show in November.

December 24, 2005

Hood River lost one of its leading ladies this week when Leila Crapper, 90, died at home on Thursday.

Crapper left behind a long and distinguished record of community service. One of her most notable achievements was election to the role of president for the state American Legion Auxiliary. She also headed the local branch of that organization off and on for decades.

The longtime resident was well known for her love of country. She married the late Harvey Crapper, a World War II veteran, in 1937 and they took every available opportunity to promote patriotism. Each year, the Crappers helped organize Hood River’s Veterans Day and Memorial Day events.

“When the war was over I felt like I was a very fortunate wife to have my husband home and it was my duty to do something to help veterans and their families,” said Leila during an interview in early 2004.

She loved to tell the story of first meeting her husband of 67 years when they were infants. Their families were living in Lyle, Wash., at the time of their introduction.

“I knew from the time that she was five months old that I was going to marry her,” Harvey, a career veteran’s service officer, would joke.

“But he didn’t ask me for another 22 years,” Leila retorted.

In May of 2004, just months before Harvey’s death at the age of 91, the couple repaired and ironed the wrinkles out of 875 flags. They wanted the flags in good condition for posting on the graves of soldiers and sailors throughout the valley on Memorial Day.

While serving as head of the state auxiliary, Leila even went to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to lobby for upgrades in military pay scales and better veterans’ pension benefits.

She continued in her service to Legion Post 22 work even after Harvey’s death on Aug. 18, 2004.

In November, Leila passed out Blue Star Banners to military mothers at the Veterans Day remembrance. She wanted the banners hung in the windows of local homes to make citizens aware of the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families.

But Crapper’s community service was not just confined to Legion activities. She was once named as Volunteer of the Year by the national office of the Special Olympics. And earned the title of a Woman of Distinction from Hood River’s Soroptomist Club. She was a charter member of Hood River Women for Agriculture and a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church Altar Society. She was also a member of the Red Hat Society.

“Leila can be out in front leading the troops or she can stay in the kitchen and bake the beans. She looks for what needs to be done and does it. She’s an inspiration,” said Jean Harmon after nominating Crapper for a Soroptomist Award.

Prior to her retirement, Crapper owned Le Harve’s beauty salon. She and Harvey had one daughter, Gerry, who resides in Guymon, Okla.

Anderson’s Tribute Center has arranged a service for Leila Crapper at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1501 Belmont Avenue.

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