Jo-Ellyn Levy met Abe Kupperman, a lifelong New Orleanian, at a wedding they both attended in her hometown of Shreveport, La. Jo-Ellyn was dating someone else at the time but kept in touch with Abe. Abe attended Tulane Law School and practiced law for a while but was asked to go into the family business; by the time he was 29 he was the CEO of more than eight companies including: United Liquidators, Levitan’s, Joy’s of Baton Rouge and Joy’s of New Orleans.
Jo-Ellyn, who was a licensed pilot at age 16, graduated from Newcomb, where she was a very popular young lady – her classmates and professors elected her to give the graduation address for her class. After graduation, she got a coveted job at Dr. Louis Levy’s Heart Station at Charity hospital – only Newcomb girls were considered for the jobs at Dr. Levy’s. After two months, Abe heard that Jo-Ellyn was in New Orleans and asked her out. They dated for about six months, and Jo-Ellyn fell in love. She always went back to Shreveport to see her parents, but on one occasion she called her parents and told them that she would be going with Abe to Baton Rouge first and then coming home! Her father was shocked. Her dad picked up the phone and called Abe and asked him directly, “Are you going to marry my daughter?” Abe answered, “Yes,” and the wedding was on!
Abe had first married his childhood sweetheart who tragically died of tuberculosis four years before he met Jo-Ellyn, so Jo-Ellyn decided that the wedding would be a small family affair and that she didn’t want to be in a traditional wedding dress. The dress she wore was a beautiful deep lavender color that she bought with her mother at Gus Mayer. The wedding was at her aunt and uncle’s [Dr. and Mrs. Bodeheimer’s] home on prestigious Delaware Street. The only flowers they could get in October were chrysanthemums – not Jo-Ellyn’s favorites.
The reception was another story. Her parents invited 600 friends and relatives to a cocktail reception at the Women’s Department Club in Shreveport with champagne, hors d’oeuvres and music that delighted the guests as well as the bride and groom.
In Shreveport, everyone played tricks on the bride and groom, so Abe booked the honeymoon under a pseudonym. They flew first to Dallas where he planned a sumptuous surprise in their suite at the Adolphus. Upon their arrival they were shocked to hear the clerk shouting loudly, “Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Kupperman!” After two days in luxury, they flew to Los Angeles and stayed at another fabulous hotel and then drove to San Francisco in a convertible all the way along the Pacific Highway.
The Kuppermans have been married for 63 years, and if you go to Audubon Park you’ll see a tribute to them from their adoring family on a plaque near the lagoon.