Who is Tarpy? This question is asked so often by patrons of Tarpy Tailors, that perhaps the story is in order.
Dorris Dee Tarpy was born June 9, 1904 in Irwin, Iowa, a town of 500 persons. After trying several professions including framing, auto mechanic and auctioneering, he began to sell made-to-measure suits.
Tarpy’s Men’s Tailors came into existence on December 15, 1925. In 1930, Dee chose a hobby that later became a profession – flying. Dressed with the helmet and goggles that early pilots wore, Dee flew the open cockpit planes at first, thrilled with all the stunts these planes could do. “Flying by the seat of your pants” was the order of the day. Instrument flying and radar were still far in the future.
In 1934, Tarpy measured his first United Airlines customer for a made-to-measure uniform. From that time on, he continued to supply uniforms for United pilots, along with conducting his regular suit business.
In 1941, with the advent of World War II, all pilots were required to serve the nation in some way, in order to hold their pilot’s license. Tarpy conducted flight training for the Civilian Air Patrol at the Omaha Municipal Airport, then was required to enter training for instrument rating in San Antonio, Texas.
In September of 1942, Continental Airlines of Denver, Colorado, hired Tarpy to fly as first officer, ferrying army cargo throughout the continental United States. He flew for CAL until August of 1943. During this year, after making his own uniform, he began to measure CAL pilots for uniforms. This work continued after his flying for CAL was completed. In 1947, Robert F. Six signed a contract authorizing Tarpy to supply all CAL pilot, stewardess and ticket agent uniforms.
In 1955, Tarpy’s daughter, Betty Ann Jones, and her husband Richard C. Jones, bought the Denver portion of Tarpy’s business. Tarpy continued to sell uniforms throughout the United States. The Joneses retained the Tarpy name for the business.
In 1962, when CAL moved their headquarters from Denver to Los Angeles, Tarpy Tailors moved too, securing an office near the airport, to better serve the many airlines which were now using Tarpy as their uniform supplier.
Dee passed away on May 5 1971, maintaining his pilot’s license and his uniform business until nearly the end.
In the 90’s, Richard retried from the business, but Betty continued, while their son Raymond, took over the day-to-day responsibilities. Ray ran the business until his untimely death in November 2007.
The Joneses did not wish to come out of retirement to run Tarpy Tailors again, so in early 2008, they sold Tarpy Tailors to Brian and Sharon Leyton. While Sharon and Brian are the first non-family members to run the business, they appreciate the rich history of the company, and plan to continue running Tarpy Tailors as a family business, maintaining its focus on selling quality uniforms to its valued customers.
The business changed hands again in July of 2012, with another family taking over the business and continuing to run it as a family business, focusing on personal service and quality uniforms.