Leah Nepom (b. 1928)

Leah Tkatch Nepom was born in Fredonia, Kansas, on February 29, 1928 (a leap year birthday). Her parents, Chaya and Yelic (Joe), were immigrants from Russia. They landed first in Illinois, but upon hearing of cheap land for sale, relocated to Fredonia, Kansas, where Leah and both of her sisters, Bessy and Edna, were born. She had an older brother as well; he was 19 when she was born. After just a few years in Fredonia, Leah’s mother insisted on being someplace with at least some Jewish community, so the family moved to Topeka, Kansas. 

Leah and her siblings attended public school, as well as religious school at the local Reform synagogue, though at home the family was observant and followed a relatively Orthodox life.

In the early 1940s, Leah’s oldest sister moved with her husband to Seattle, Washington, and convinced Leah to follow soon after. Leah attended the University of Washington where she joined the Jewish sorority, Alpha Phi. Her future husband, Marv, was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu. They met and married while they were still in school. After a brief honeymoon, Marv returned to finish his degree but Leah chose not to continue. After Marv graduated in 1947, the couple moved to Portland where Marv had been born and raised.

Marv worked in his parents’ grocery store while Leah stayed home with their three children: Jerry, David, and Hanna. Eventually Marv enrolled in law school, attending at night after working in the store all day. Leah was active in many clubs and organizations within the community, including National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Community Center. She and Marv were married for 67 years, until his death in 2014. 

Interview(s):