July 4, 1928 — Feb. 1, 2013
Juan A. Ulep, 84, of Sweet Home died on Friday at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, following a brief illness.
He was born to Quinero Frederick and Eufracia Ulep on a sugar plantation in Pittland, Laguna Province, Philippine Islands, the oldest of five boys. His father farmed and his mother was the region’s midwife. Juan attended school, helped in the family business, and participated in the resistance against the Japanese occupation as an under-age member of the Philippine Army.
After World War II, he relocated first to Guam, then Portland, then to Los Angeles, where he completed high school. He earned degrees from Stockton Junior College and the University of the Pacific in Stockton. He went on to a lengthy career in the U.S. Army from 1962 through 1983, then in the Oregon State Defense Force, retiring in 2001 with the rank of Command Sergeant Major.
Juan’s military service took him to several locations throughout the world, including Germany, Hawaii, Vietnam, the Philippines and various posts throughout the United States. Though he served his earlier years as a member of airborne and infantry units, his penchant for acquiring new languages and diplomatic skills later made him a particularly effective liaison to foreign military forces.
He was a highly decorated soldier with several commendations and medals, including the Linn County Veteran of the Year in 2009.
Juan met Donna Desler of Sweet Home in 1984 and they married two years later. Throughout their 29-year romance, they traveled the world, visiting old friends and making new ones.
The concept of retirement was largely foreign to Juan and Donna. Their lifetime of service included supplying textbooks to Honduras, the Philippines and Uganda; building homes through Habitat for Humanity; improving international relations through Friendship Force; and numerous service projects through Rotary International.
Beginning with his service as a Rotary Fellow in the 1950s, Juan led Rotarian efforts to provide recycled textbooks and other school supplies, install clean water wells, and provide much-needed dental and medical supplies to impoverished countries.
Juan received several awards and recognitions throughout his life, including the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen for 2008. He will be remembered for his appreciation of good times with family and friends, a wicked sense of humor, his service to community above self, as an excellent sport fisherman and cook, and above all as a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
He is survived by Donna, his wife of 27 years; son Frederick Ulep (Selena) of South Carolina; daughter Violet Cohen (Peter) of North Carolina; step-daughters Debi McCain of Spokane and Diane Davis (Jeff) of Corvallis; grand-children Heather Maria, Kari, Heather, Megan, Kala and Wynton; and seven great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his son Juan A. Ulep Jr.
Viewing took place Tuesday at Sweet Home Funeral Chapel. A celebration of life is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Lebanon Elks Lodge. A private ceremony including full military honors is planned for Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to the Rotary International Polio Plus fund or the Wounded Warriors Project. Sweet Home Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements (www.sweethomefuneral.com).