Celebrated Schenectady doctor turns 100

Clifford and Cynthia with their grandchildren celebrating his 90th birthday in 1990

Clifford and Cynthia with their grandchildren celebrating his 90th birthday in 1990

SCHENECTADY – After spending a lifetime working in and helping the Schenectady area, local doctor and nature lover Clifford Tepper celebrated his 100th birthday this week.

Tepper lived in Schenectady almost all of his life, he grew from humble beginnings and became well-known not only as a local doctor but as an involved member of the community.

“Meeting (my wife) Cynthia was the most important thing,” Clifford Tepper said. “And, also my career in medicine, birdwatching, and drawing, painting and art.”

Tepper was born and raised in Schenectady and lived there his whole life until just about four years ago when he and his wife Cynthia moved to Bethesda Maryland to be closer to family.

Clifford Tepper was born October 26, 1922 to eastern European Jewish immigrant parents Anna Lifschitz and Solomon Tepper. The family lived on Oxford Place in Schenectady. Clifford Tepper grew to become a locally renowned doctor and was involved in numerous local groups and organizations.

“He worked well into his 80s, almost to his 90s,” Henry said. “He had this kind of amazing career in medicine, but that really doesn’t tell the whole story about him. My father has a type-A personality, he was incredibly incredibly energetic, and had this gigantic appetite for information, and a very wide-range of interests.”

Clifford Tepper came from a very humble background, his son Henry Tepper said. He explained neither of Clifford Tepper’s parents were educated. Clifford and his brother Jason Tepper were both smart children who received scholarships to attend Union College.

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“He worked his way through Union, and he didn’t even graduate,” Henry said. “In those days sometimes people left school before they graduated and he was accepted into medical school at Columbia University in New York City. He left union after about two-and-a-half years and went to medical school and became a doctor.”

Dad went to medical school in his US Air Force uniform and entered active military service after graduating medical school, said Henry Tepper. Clifford Tepper was stationed in Tampa and then in Fairbanks Alaska where he was Chief Medical Officer at Eileson Air Force Base running mobile hospitals.

Clifford Tepper became a pediatrician and was board certified in allergy and immunologist. He met his wife, the former Cynthia Ruth Silver and they were married in 1951. This year, the couple celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary

Clifford Tepper brought his Queens-born wife to Schenectady where he opened a pediatric practice among other doctor and dental offices on Upper Union Street. His brother Jason Tepper joined the practice a few years later and the brothers were later joined by another doctor Jim Kennedy. Clifford Tepper also taught at Albany Medical School throughout his career.

The office of Tepper, Tepper and Kennedy became a Schenectady institution from the 1950s to the 1990s, Henry Tepper said.

“Everybody I knew growing up went there, my and my siblings’ friends, everyone we knew went to them as doctors,” Henry Tepper said. “They were the local pediatricians.”

Throughout his life Clifford Tepper had a very wide range of interests, said Henry Tepper. Clifford was a lifelong bird watcher, he was very interested in nature, he loved to travel all over the world, enjoys art, and was very involved in community service.

“He was on many, many boards, and volunteered for endless organizations,” Henry Tepper said. “He was on the board of the local Synagogue, he was the president of the New England Allergy Association, he was on the library board, he was on the board of the Schenectady Museum, he helped create a nature sanctuary in Niskayuna, he helped protect a piece of land near Lock Seven.”

In his 80s, Clifford Tepper was part of a group of other doctors who helped to form the Schenectady Free Clinic, a medical clinic in downtown Schenectady. Clifford worked at the clinic which provided free medical care to the community.

“He was such a pillar of his community, and he believed really strongly in the community,” Henry Tepper said.

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Clifford Tepper was always a little self-conscious about the fact that he had never gotten his college degree from Union College, even though he was a doctor, Henry Tepper said. After decades of working as a doctor, Union College awarded Clifford Tepper his degree at 80-years-old.

In September Union College celebrated his achievements by giving Clifford Tepper a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Clifford and Cynthia have four children, Stewart, Nancy, Audry and Henry, six grandchildren, Clinton, Sam, Kate, Miles, Annie, Jonathan, one great-grandson, Boone, and another great-grandchild on the way.

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