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Jack Harper Jr.

May 30, 1952 - March 12, 2021

(Wallace) Jack Harper, Jr., died Friday, March 12, 2021 after a year-long battle with cancer.  Jack died at home in Evergreen with his wife and beloved son holding his hands.  Jack was born on May 30, 1952 in Paducah, Texas, to Wallace Jack Harper, Sr., and Hattie B. Lloyd Harper.  A curious scientist from the start, Jack burned down the family home at the age of three while experimenting with matches.  He went on to graduate from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Electrical Engineer, a B.A. in Mathematics, and a four-year minor in Russian Studies.  The EE program was an entrée to the world of computers and to Jack, computer programming was an art as much as a science:

Early in his career, Jack programmed on mainframe computers, working for the likes of NASA and EDS, and programming war game simulations for the U.S. Army 5th Corps in Frankfurt, Germany.  Jack moved to Denver in 1980 and settled in Evergreen with his trusty cat, Spot.

Jack nurtured an entrepreneurial streak on the side, first in the form of “Rent-a-Casket” in Galveston, TX, and then a business flying shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico to restaurants in northern Texas.  Once in Denver, Jack’s entrepreneurial spirit was stoked by the high-tech market.  Over the years, he founded or promoted start-up companies and products in the fields of real-time embedded hardware-software crypto systems; advanced digital livescan fingerprinting and biometrics systems; variable-topology supercomputer systems for artificial intelligence; vaguely autonomous laser-imaging guided mobile security robots; and instrumentation (kidney dialysis and laparoscopic ultrasound gear). Jack worked, consulted, and sold systems with feet on the ground in 23 countries.  He held eight issued patents and had new ideas in the works at the time of his death.

Jack was a talker and a storyteller; he could sell anything to anyone.  He studied mathematics, physics, WWII history, and astronomy throughout his life.  He earned an MBA through the University of Denver and his lifelong, unmet goal was to study at the London School of Economics.  Jack left behind a bunker full of ham radios, a museum-sized collection of vintage Lisp computers, and an observatory on his back deck,

Jack met his wife, Kathleen Kulasza, through their shared love of cats. He had two and she had two at the time they married in 1989.  Throughout their marriage, they never had fewer than three cats and, at times, as many as eight.  Jack loved being married and was the most romantic of husbands, but he did think eight cats was too many.

Jack was dad, best friend, boss, and mentor, to his son, Nick Harper.  Jack tried hard to instill the values of hard work, perseverance, loyalty, and optimism in his son.  We think he succeeded and he was so proud of his son.  Nick will miss him dearly.

Jack is survived by Kathleen, Nick, and Nick’s wife, Erin Wilson.  Nick and Erin moved from Dallas to Denver in July 2020, to help care for Jack; they live in Lakewood.  Jack is also survived by his sister and her husband, Sue and Paul Murphy of Spokane, Washington, and their sons, Kevin and Colin.  Felines Fluffy, Ziggy, Moose, and Rooster comprise the rest of the Harper household.  Barbara and David Vaughan, Kathleen’s sister and brother-in-law, have provided constant care and support throughout this ordeal and deserve an eternal “thank you.”


Funeral services will be private.  Donations may be made in memory of Jack Harper to:  University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, https://giving.uh.edu/eng/.


12 Responses

  1. Gerlinde Hinterholzer says:

    The last time I met Jack 2001 at Cebit in Hannover. He was president for BSI200 and I worked for LaserCard. I got to know him as a lovable, optimistic, far-sighted and very intelligent colleague. Although there were many miles between our homes, a wonderful e-mail friendship developed. His e-mails always started with “favourite Austrian”. Jack repeatedly stressed how proud he is of his family, especially of his son Nick and his daughter in law Erin. Jack sent his telescope to my daughter Michaela, who is also very interested in astronomy. We cherish it, and when we look through the telescope, we’ll think of Jack and see a bright shining star,….
    Our condolence to his family

  2. Doug Hortvet, Jr. says:

    Jack was my closest friend for nearly 50 years – a brother of a different mother and father. We met while working as computer terminal operators at UH’s Cullen College of Engineering. Our 1975 road trip to Mojave CA. for the air races was our first adventure, followed by rafting the Guadalupe River and trips to Harlingen for the annual CAF airshow along with our group of friends. For the last 30 or so years we maintained a healthy debate as to whether space-time was continuous or discrete – Jack’s position being that it is discrete i.e., quantized, his reasoning rooted in the fundamentals of Shannon’s information theory, with which he had an in depth and fundamental understanding. The answer remains open to debate by the best minds in physics. Our mutual interests included amateur astronomy, tube audio equipment, flying, and WWII history – in which he readily shared his vast knowledge and enthusiasm.

    Although separated by many miles, we corresponded daily. The absence of which is a void that cannot be filled. Jack will be missed to my end of days.

  3. Bryan Luman says:

    So very sorry to hear. I met Jack summer of 1998 when he hired me on shortly after I graduated college. I worked with Jack for almost 6 years following that time. Jack and I traveled internationally quite a bit over the years for business and I had the great privilege to learn so much from him during that time. I will be forever grateful. Thanks for all the great fun times as well Jack. You will be missed.
    My very best to the family.

  4. The Dellacorino Family says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with at this difficult time.

  5. Roberto Wolfer says:

    I met Jack only once. He came for business reason to Germany but mostly we talked about mountains, cats, science and very little about business. Time was too short for starting a business but we shared the same ethics and thoughts and it would have been certainly a good cooperation.

    My condolence to his family.


  6. Dale and Michele Hays says:

    Our condolences to Jack’s family. Please reach out to us if there is anything we can assist with during this grievous time.

    Dale and Shelly

  7. Bill & Cindy Wilcox says:

    We didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Jack but we got to know him and Kathleen through great stories from Barb & David. We are so sorry for your loss and will keep the family in our thoughts and prayers.

  8. Jim Record says:

    I’ll drink a scotch while remembering a best friend and fellow nerd. I really enjoyed our time together this last year working on ham radio gear and talking about many things.

  9. Rick/Rich Newell says:

    I met Jack at UofH working as a terminal operator and of course, Jack always hung out around computers along with the group. At the time everyone called me Rich except for Jack who called me Rick. All his emails started with Rick/Rich. For a while, I was contracting in Utah and managed to always layover for the weekend about every 4 weeks and we would hang out and explore the country. One time I got off the plane and no Jack. This was before cell phone so I just waited in the concourse until I heard a page to pick up the white phone. It was Jack and he was somewhere south and had forgotten this was our weekend but was on his way in 4 or 5 hours. Jack as a pilot inspired me back into flying and eventually a certified pilot. Before that, we would attend airshows, and one weekend we flew to the Harlingen Airshow in south Texas. Unforecast bad weather leaving the first night and almost ran out of gas twice but somehow we survived. I will never forget Jack and his stories. Even though we were 1000 miles apart he was one of my closest friends and I already miss Jack dearly.

    My prayers and condolences to the family and thank you for the difficult care you provided for Jack this past year.

    With lots of love, Rick/Rich

  10. Jeff Sulik says:

    My condolences to all of you.

  11. Deborah Okoniewski says:

    My condolences to the family. I am sorry I never had the chance to meet Jack in person. He sounds like he had a fascinating life.

  12. Nick Harper says:

    I already miss you more than words can even convey, Dad.

    Love, Nick

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