Oklahoma tornadoes: Cashion man died in May 24 tornado while trying to save his wife

Billy Leeper and his wife were trying to get to shelter May 24 when a tornado destroyed their mobile home outside Cashion. The tornado bore down on them as they were getting into their truck to drive away. Leeper covered his wife to try to protect her from the storm. She survived, but he didn't.
BY DARLA SLIPKE dslipke@opubco.com Published: June 1, 2011
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Family members said they weren't surprised Billy Leeper, who most knew as B.J., sacrificed his life to protect his wife.

“That's the kind of man he was,” Codey Leeper said. “He's a hero to me and a hero to all of us.”

A Vietnam War veteran, Billy Leeper was a blunt man who was willing to help anyone who needed it, family members said. Most people loved him, and everyone knew where he stood, his son said.

“You didn't have to worry about him holding anything back,” Codey Leeper said, adding that his dad was his best friend.

Billy Leeper loved fishing, deer hunting, fixing cars and spending time with his three children and five grandchildren, ages 3 to 14. He worked as a construction supervisor for Vanguard Properties, said daughter Alicia Leeper, 27.

Alicia Leeper said her dad loved telling stories. One he told often was about the time he took one of his granddaughters fishing for the first time. Instead of reeling the fish in, she turned around and ran with the pole.

Alicia Leeper said her father's act of heroism last week was part of his nature.

“It was in his heart,” she said.

The family held a memorial service for Billy Leeper on Tuesday. Burial will be at a later date at Fort Sill National Cemetery in Elgin.


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