Valerie Frances (Lemper) Bullen of Ann Arbor, formerly of Jackson, died on Friday, November 15, 2019, at the age of 90, in her home at Glacier Hills Senior Living Community, in Ann Arbor. She was an adored wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and world-class teacher of German in the Jackson Schools. Val was born to Frank J. and Evelyn (Reeves) Lemper on January 4, 1929, in Hinsdale, Illinois. On August 29, 1953, she and Lawrence L. (Larry) Bullen were married in Ann Arbor. They celebrated their 66th anniversary this past August. Val was an only child with no cousins or any other relatives. However, she was blessed by becoming the mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of 17 lineal descendants. They include: Charles D. Bullen (Lynne Larson) of Phoenix, Arizona; John L. Bullen of Ann Arbor and his family, Dana Bullen (Jonathan) Friedman and their children Benjamin, Elizabeth and William, of Brighton, Michigan, and John A. (Amanda) and their children Evelyn and Lindy, of Peoria, Arizona; Martha Mary Bullen (Anthony) Muhich of Grosse Pointe Park and their children Christopher of Phoenix, Arizona, Timothy of Lansing, and Emily of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Thomas A. (Mary Lou) Bullen of Folsom, California, and their children Andrew (Sharon) of Alameda, California, Alexander of Mountain View, California, and Jennifer of Davis, California. She is also survived by Larry’s cousins, Ruth Torrant (Edwin, Dec.) Sheldon of Madison, Wisconsin, and Evalyn Torrant of Midland; Larry’s nieces and nephews, Margaret Washbish (Anthony) Carducci, Kathrin Washbish (Larry) Pereira, and Donald Washbish; Kathleen Ware (Peter) Groschner, David (Susie) Ware, and brother-in-law, Albert Ware. She was predeceased by her parents, Larry’s parents, G. Rex and Gladys Bullen; six aunts and one uncle, all childless; Larry’s sisters, Margaret Ware and Eunice Washbish; brother-in-law, Richard Washbish, and Larry’s nephew Larry Kavall. The family also hosted many short term exchange students, primarily Germans. Others came for longer stays. Professor Dr. Med. Christian Hamm of Bad Nauheim, Germany, lived with the family for a year, and his younger brother, Dr. Martin Hamm of Dusseldorf was with the family for half a year.
Val always lived in the Chicago area until she left to attend the University of Michigan. She graduated from Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois, in June of 1947 and entered the U of M that fall. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in June of 1951, with the double major of History and German. She launched her teaching career in the fall of 1951 at Ortonville High School in north Oakland County, and moved to Ann Arbor in 1952 to teach at Slauson Jr. High School, and take graduate classes at U of M. She left teaching after Larry graduated from Law School in June of 1954 and she and Larry moved to Jackson, joining Larry’s parents, and anticipated the birth of Charlie in September and Larry’s being drafted. Larry received his draft notice the day before Charlie was born and Val and Charlie stayed in Jackson while he was trained and sent to Germany. She and Charlie left Jackson to join Larry in Germany in May of 1955. They had a glorious stay of 18 months, living in one room in the home of a German family. The Bullens, then including second son John, returned to Jackson in September of 1956, and lived there until October of 2014, when they moved to make their new home at Glacier Hills Senior Living Community in Ann Arbor.
After returning from Germany in 1956, Val was a stay at home mom until 1968. She was extremely active in the music and other education of children in general and her kids in particular. She toted her kids all over for music lessons and performances and coaching them in music. She was herself a fine flutist, having attended Interlochen and played in the U of M Symphony Band under its world famous Director, William D. Revelli. She also played in the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. All the while she was doing time and a half duty to manage the home and kids. Larry has always said Val deserves most of the credit for parental contribution to the lives and success of their children.
Her family from Charlie to little William, our youngest great-grandchild, was the principal object of her life, eclipsing her many accomplishments to be covered later. The family gatherings, first at Larry’s parents’ home on Third Street, evolving through the years to Larry & Val’s, Eunice and Dick’s, through the latest, her 90th birthday party at Martha’s, and Larry’s “tailgate” 90th birthday party in October at their Glacier Hills apartment.
In the stay at home mom period from 1956 to 1968, she became very involved in community activities, helping in United Way and American Cancer Society fund raising, teaching Great Books to elementary and middle school children, being a leader of both Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, serving several terms as President of the Lawyers’ Auxiliary, and was deeply involved in Alumni work with the U of M Alumni Association. She was a leader in the U of M Alumnae (Ladies) Club of Jackson for years. She also served as a long time Board member and Secretary of the Alumnae Council, of the U of M Alumni Association. She researched and compiled a written history of the Alumnae Council from 1903 through 2010 plus years. She always was a member and frequently chair of both the Jackson Club and Alumnae Council Scholarship committees.
In 1968, due to the sudden absence of a German teacher at Jackson High School, she was coaxed by the iconic principal of JHS, Earl Holman, to help them out by taking over the German program, until they could find a “real teacher” - she stayed for 21 years, teaching at both JHS and Parkside High School. Numerous educators have expressed the opinion that Val’s German program was the best in the state. While teaching at the highest level, she continued to operate a wonderful household and life for a busy husband, 4 kids, exchange student sons, and continued to carry on most of her outside activities.
The family also traveled extensively, both with the children and in later years just Val and Larry. Family trips with her kids and ultimately grandchildren too were lasting joys for Val and all of the rest of the family. We traveled to California several times with just 4 kids and on the last visit, needing a table for 17 or 18 at each meal. Such fun! The whole gang made a two week tour of New England, destined to be the last such adventure. A lake cottage two week experience with all kids and all (6 then) grandkids was a great adventure, though not without chaos. All participants received t-shirts for Christmas that year with the message “I survived chaos-Crystal Lake - July 1991.”
Val also established a tradition of offering all grandchildren, as they graduated from high school, or the summer before, to take them on a one on one trip to Europe. Most of the kids took her up on the offer, and these trips were really great highlights in her life. Also between 1978 and 1989 Val took groups of her students on two week tours of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition, she established an exchange program with a high school in Varel, Germany, which is still active at Jackson High. Between their living with a German family for a year and a half and working with various exchange folks, they had many friends in Germany whom they frequently visited. Val and Larry also traveled to all fifty states, all provinces of Canada, nearly all Western and Eastern European countries, as well as the UK, Ireland, the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. They also visited Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.
Val has received many honors, including the U of M German Department frequently inviting her to appear as a guest lecturer on how to make the teaching of German more effective, making the class more appealing and stimulating, sharing her methods of mixing in humor and fun activities. As an undergrad at U of M she was honored by being appointed a member of Mortar Board Society, an honor society for women students who have been very active and successful in student and community activities, along with achieving very high grades.
In 2010, the U of M Alumnae Council bestowed upon her the Alumnae Council National Service award in recognition of her years of service to the Alumnae Council, the University of Michigan and her work in promoting and advocating U of M’s Continuing Education for Women, and many other services, including scholarship selections.
The center of her life has always been service to others as daughter, mom, volunteer, educator, and beloved wife. Her palpable empathy for all persons (and pets), her quick wit and spirit have stayed with her forever, in spite of several years of failing health.
A Memorial Service will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 309 S. Jackson Street in Jackson at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 28, with the Rev. Sarah Hurlbert, Rector, as the celebrant. The family will greet friends and relatives at 10:00 a.m. in Holy Spirit Hall of St. Paul’s. A luncheon in Holy Spirit Hall shall follow the service for further fellowship. Cremation has taken place. Cremains will be interred in three locations which were very important to her, the Memorial Garden at St. Paul’s, the Memorial Garden at St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Town Cemetery in Sindelfingen, Germany.
The family expresses our sincere appreciation and thanks to the staffs of Arbor Hospice, Home Instead, Glacier Hills, and other numerous care givers for their caring and loving attention to Val. We also are thankful for the loving pastoral care given by the Rev. Sarah Hurlbert, the Rev. Alan Gibson, and the Rev. Paul Arnold.
In remembrance of such a giving person, charitable contributions are invited rather than any physical offerings. A gift to Arbor Hospice Foundation, 2366 Oak Valley Dr., Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103, or the Frank J. Lemper Scholarship in Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, Development Department, 1221 Beal Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-2102, or a charity of the donor’s choice, would be greatly appreciated by Val’s family.
To send flowers to Valerie's family, please visit our floral section.
Arbor Hospice Foundation
2366 Oak Valley Drive, Ann Arbor MI 48103
Frank J. Lemper Scholarship in Civil Engineering at U of M College of Engineering
Development Department, 1221 Beal Ave., Ann Arbor MI 48104-2102
Charity of your choice