Pictured above, from left to right: Jeri Royce, President & CEO, Mr. and Mrs. Young, long-time supporters of Esperanca, Dr. Bill Dolan, Bobbie Vidulich, and Dr. Harry Owens, members of the original surgical missions aboard the Esperança hospital ship in Brazil.
Submitted by a long-time supporter of Esperança
My connection to Esperança dates back to the summer of 1977. I had just turned 21 that spring. My Dad and I had been operating a full-service Texaco gas station and repair shop since October 1975. The gas station was located in the Victorian Village section of the city just north of downtown Columbus, Ohio. The priest and staff of the local Catholic Church (Saint Francis of Assisi) soon became regular customers of our business. They would stop in weekly to have us fill their tanks and check the oil. We also serviced and repaired most of the staff cars and maintained the pastor’s car.
During the Summer/Fall of 1977, a fellow pulled into the gas station to fill the tank on his motorcycle. My Dad noticed he was wearing a priest’s collar and asked his name. He said “I am Father Luke Tupper”. My Dad “didn’t know a stranger” and asked what church he was giving mass. Father Tupper responded he was around the corner at Saint Francis of Assisi. My Dad really took a liking to Father Tupper and always made the time to chat with him whenever he would stop in the station. This was how we learned of Father Tupper’s involvement with Esperança.
We began contributing to “the cause” shortly after learning that this was Father Luke’s passion. I can clearly remember at some point in our friendship with Father Tupper that Dad and I were going to purchase a used VW Beetle and donate it to the church for him to get around when the weather in Columbus turned cold and blustery. Dad suggested it to him one day when he stopped in to gas up his motorcycle. I still remember that he was riding his motorcycle and wearing sandals on a cold fall day. We were both disappointed that Father Tupper would not accept a car from us. My Dad and I realized then that he was frugal to a fault. We respected his decision and gave up on our plan to support him in this way.
Our gas station closed up in December of 1977. We continued servicing and repairing cars from the station, but we were no longer selling gasoline. Unfortunately, we didn’t see Father Tupper much after that. I remember the day we got the news in 1978 that Father Tupper had been killed. It happened 5 blocks away from our shop. While riding his motorcycle to Ohio State University Hospital where he was studying to become an eye surgeon, he was struck by another vehicle. It was a very sad time for our family. Dad continued to support Esperança every year after Father Luke’s death.
My Dad died in 1994 at the age of 66 from an aneurysm. I had the opportunity to work side by side with my Dad for over 19 years and got to know him unlike any of my siblings. I knew how important Esperança was to him and how he respected what Father Luke was doing to help those less fortunate. Our family decided then to honor our Dad by continuing to contribute to such a good cause and to honor Father Tupper’s legacy. We will continue supporting Esperança in the memory of two good men!
The Young Family