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Samuel Ira Tepper ’10

A picture of Sam Tepper

Sam Tepper ’10 with his sister, Naomi

Samuel Ira Tepper ’10, March 23, in Portland. Sam died of a heroin overdose in his off-campus apartment, according to the Multnomah County medical examiner. He was 22 years old and just beginning work on his senior thesis, a physics experiment investigating the energy level of laser light refracted through a prism. Sam hailed from New York City and demonstrated early talent in mental calculation and fascination in how things work; at the age of two, he correctly selected a Phillips screwdriver to change the batteries in a favorite toy. Prekindergarten, he helped his older sister with her math homework. In fifth grade, his chess team won a city tournament; shortly thereafter, he began constructing homemade computers from individual components. Sam was an accomplished bass player who performed in several bands at Stuyvesant High School, and later in the Reed Jazz Ensemble; he once transcribed a Bach concerto for the bass. He was also active in his synagogue and served as president of the youth group. At a memorial held in the student union, friends remembered him as a quintessential New Yorker with a warm heart and a wry sense of humor. “Sam was the first friend I made at Reed,” said chemistry major Stephanie Dillon ’10. “I was sitting by myself thinking 'Okay, it's been six hours, I need to talk to someone,' when this guy sat down and started talking about computers and physics and really made me feel comfortable. That's just how Sam was.” “He had a hard shell,” said mathematics major Andy Malkin ’11. “But beneath it, he was a really special guy and we loved him dearly.” “Dear Sam,” one well-wisher wrote at the memorial. “You were such a special, kind, intelligent young man. You mean so much to so many people. We will never be the same without, but when I think of you, it will be fondly.”In addition to his parents, Alan and Barbara Tepper, Sam is survived by his his sister, Naomi, and his grandparents.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2010

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