By Published: Dec. 1, 2017

Tepley house

The plaque at 1145 Grandview Ave. went up in the mid-1990s. “Tepley House,” it declares. “C. 1907.”

Yet for years after the old home on The Hill became a Boulder landmark, and for some time before, the only way Bill Tepley (Pharm’87) could get inside was to knock, introduce himself and ask to poke around for old times’ sake.

Access is simpler now: In August, his younger daughter, Grace Tepley (IntlAf’18), moved into the turreted Queen Anne-style home, just off Broadway — extending the family streak to four successive generations of Tepleys in residence while attending CU Boulder.

“Grace is in one of the rooms I stayed in,” said Bill, 57, a Denver pharmacist with a fondness for hats and a gig as the bassist in a cover band called The Vinyls.

Grace’s sister, Savannah Tepley (MechEngr’15), passed on an earlier chance to advance the streak, making a practical decision to live by the engineering center — clear across campus — where most of her classes met.

If the streak itself is remarkable, so is the story of its start.

The American dream, manifest. 

Early in the 20th century, Bill Tepley’s paternal grandparents, Katherine (Hist’30; MA’32) and Leo (MD1917) Teplitzky, fled Russia for New York after their release — in Leo’s case, escape — from the Siberian lockup where they’d been political prisoners, according to family lore and research. Katherine’s offense: Teaching peasants to read. Leo’s: “backing the wrong horse,” Bill said.

The couple came to Boulder, changed their name and worked as custodians in CU’s stables. Leo helped lay sidewalks.

Leo eventually worked his way into medical school and became a psychiatrist. He and Katherine migrated to Denver and had three children, including Bill’s father, Eugene (A&S’36; Law’39), a future CU gymnast specializing in the flying rings, a lawyer and a political candidate.

The Grandview house entered the picture after the Tepleys’ marriage foundered. In 1924 Katherine and the children moved back to Boulder and into No. 1145.

The kids all went on to study at CU — as did Katherine, who attended alongside daughter Victoria. Katherine earned two degrees in history, then taught at CU and the University of Denver.

“She was what I would call a progressive woman,” Bill said of his grandmother, whom he never knew. “Education was important to her. She went to prison twice over it [in Russia].”

The house remained in the family long enough for Bill to live there in the 1970s and ’80s. He and friends paid his parents, who managed the house as a rental property, about $60 each per month. Nine of 15 Tepley Buffs lived there at some point.

Bill’s parents came to Boulder for home football games, usually dropping off food for their renters and sometimes doing their laundry. Over the years, Bill helped his father replace the house’s plumbing and insulation. They repainted it top to bottom.

In 1988, as Bill’s parents entered old age, the family sold the home.

After the city landmarked the house — the plaque honors the architecture, the Tepleys and also former occupant Wiley B. Rutledge (Law’22), CU’s first alumnus on the U.S. Supreme Court — Bill would double park while friends hopped out to take a look.

Decades went by.

In fall 2015, Grace Tepley, then a sophomore, made her move to resume the streak.

She strode to the door of 1145, introduced herself and asked for the landlord’s number. She called, only to learn the house had already been leased for the next year.

But the landlord, who’d bought the house from the Tepleys, gave Grace first dibs for 2017. All she’d have to do was round up roommates.

Once she had — and not before — the aspiring lawyer, now 22, gave her dad the good news.

“I knew he’d call our entire family,” she said. “I didn’t want it to fall through.”

Bill sees 1145 Grandview as a symbol, not just of his own family.

“In a time where people are saying, ‘Immigrants, we don’t need ’em,’ you look at my family, they came here with no language and no skills and had to change their names to get jobs — and yet they turn into the American dream,” he said. “It all goes through that house.”

Photo by Glenn Asakawa