Tim and Janet Duperree’s Legacy of Salvation Army Leadership in Delaware
The Duperrees’ contribution to the local Salvation Army is more than just a drop in the bucket.
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If not exactly affluent, the couple from the working-class neighborhood seems poised to achieve the American dream: house in the suburbs, two cars, two or three children, membership in the pool, maybe the country club.
But their lifestyle leaves them with a vague, nagging sense of guilt. She remembers it this way: “We felt we were making money but not doing things for other people, just for ourselves.”
“We felt very selfish,” he adds. “And we didn’t feel fulfilled.”
At about this time, they go back to their hometown to travel with family members to a Salvation Army function in Pittsburgh. During the ride, a church officer tells them of an emergency shelter in Fitchburg, Mass., that’s in need of management. “I think you two would be good at it,” he says.
They return to Rochester, pray on the offer, and decide to change their lives entirely. They move to Fitchburg, a city of 40,000 near Boston, and take over the shelter. He is 22, she is 20.
And so the couple—Tim and Janet Duperree—begins what their official Salvation Army bio describes as “an exciting and challenging journey.” Thirty years later, the Duperrees’ altruistic odyssey has brought them to Delaware. They arrived last summer, Major Tim as director of the state’s Salvation Army organization and Major Jan as associate director. They replaced Majors Michael and Connie DeMichael, who retired.
Like most Army officers, the Duperrees have moved often, leaving a trail of accomplishments in their wake. Prior to formal ministry education, they operated first the family shelter in Fitchburg, then one for battered women in Allentown, Pa. That’s where Jan finally got her driver’s license—at 23—taking the test in a 15-passenger Salvation Army van.
They subsequently graduated from the Salvation Army School for Officer Training in Suffern, N.Y., and became certified grief counselors. Next, they established a new corps (the Salvation Army’s term for church) in Riverhead, part of Long Island. Their last posting was in Pittsburgh, where they oversaw construction of the Pittsburgh Temple Worship and Service Center.
“That was my favorite assignment until now,” says Tim. “We had a blend of social classes, from poverty to the upper class, and we were seeing lives being changed.”
The Duperrees had spent many summer vacations at Rehoboth Beach, so they were somewhat familiar with Delaware. Tim calls coming to the First State “like winning the lottery.”
To hear staffers and board members talk, the couple took to their new assignment with gusto.