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Tracy E. P. Harper Sr., 70, passed away at home Thursday (Sept. 19, 2019).
There will be a funeral service at noon Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Owens Funeral Home, 101 N. Elm St., Champaign, with the visitation one hour prior to the service. He will be buried in Mackey Cemetery, rural Mansfield. Military honors will be accorded by the VFW 5520 Color Guard.
Tracy was born Sept. 11, 1949, in Urbana at Mercy Hospital, to Helen Irene Watson and James Wyatt Harper. He married Connie Pece in 1978. She survives.
He is also survived by his brother, Jim Harper (Pat); son, T. J. Harper (Cindy, granddaughters Hailey and Hannah); son, Aaron J. Harper (Yitong Peng, grandson Landon and granddaughter Mara); loving in-laws; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his mother, father and infant daughter.
Tracy lived at Cunningham Children’s Home in the early 1960s and thought of Ed Odem as a second father. He went on to attend Urbana schools and earned an associate degree in general studies from Parkland College in 1994.
Tracy joined the Army in 1968 and became a parachute rigger at Fort Bragg, N.C. He then graduated from Airborne School and was sent to Vietnam, where he joined the 5th Special Forces Group. As a Green Beret, he gathered intelligence and served as a sniper. He saw combat in both Vietnam and Cambodia and on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and earned the following medals: Army Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star; Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars; NCO Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 3; Army Service Ribbon; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon w/Device (1960); Expert Badge with Auto Rifle Bar; and Parachutist Badge. In 1973, he joined the Illinois National Guard and continued to serve until 1986, when he joined USPS, where he worked for 30 years, earning retirement in 2002. Tracy was also president of the American Postal Workers Union for several years.
Tracy devoted many hours to his passion of playing pool, usually at Jupiter’s, and won numerous trophies. He was a Top League 8 Ball National Champion. He thought of his many Jupiter’s friends as his second family.
Tracy researched his ancestry and was recognized as a member of the Illinois Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1996. He was also recognized as a Descendant of Ancient Planters in 2002 and 2010.
He earned Fourth Degree in the Knights of Columbus in 2001 and was a member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Tracy also enjoyed writing poetry.
Tracy (and Connie) wanted to thank Carle Hospice and the other kind caregivers who helped him through the years.