Mr. Clean: A short memoir by Mike Tully

Inspired by all those that knew you

Death has always brought people to a standstill. It is a moment in time where we all stand there and think how and why, what is my purpose in this world? This moment of shock and stillness elevates when we experience death of a loved one who was young, filled with life, joy, happiness, and comes as a complete unknown. That is what happened to our best friend, Nicholas Albert Leppla. However, let me tell you how this stillness and emptiness that his death initially had on us is not stillness at all; it is a wave of vibrations that is now saving lives. So, we are not going to talk about “Nicholas”, let us talk about the true him, Dad, Mr. Clean, Griz, baldly, hairy man. That is the man who brought joy to lives every day and continues to this day to save lives.

Nick was a man who truly found himself in college, a late bloomer one may say. None of that matters however because he took Keene State College by storm. He entered as a thin-haired balding man with a hairy chest who did simple activities in high school like chucking a disc and building things like bird houses and coffee tables in woodshop class, oh would this man soon change. It did not take long for us to convince Nick that it was time to shave that head. We took a race-car razor to his dome and on that cool day in November on the eve of his birthday, Mr. Clean was born. Oh, how much better he looked. He was finally able to visualize himself as a mix between Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson and Vin Diesel (Watch out ladies).

Now that we know how Mr. Clean came to be let me share how that transformed his life. Now a confident, strong, bald man Nick was ready to take on college. The man was already able to light up the room, but now he was the life blood to any party we were at. We rose all types of hell from keg stands to shotguns galore, many of these activities cannot be mentioned for legal reasons, however. He was a menace to the society of Keene, but in the best ways possible.

If you needed a beer while you were out, you knew the man to look for at the party. Simple acts like this made a world of difference to some people because it would be the spark to a new conversation with Nick, a friendship in the making over a delicious Natty Light. He would make friends on top of friends every night we went out and these friendships will last forever in these people’s hearts. I mean how could you not tell the tale of when Mr. Clean handed you a beverage from his backpack. Nick had a way of making everyone feel like they were a friend to him. There are so many people who attended Keene State who will forever remember Nick for the times they spent together with him. I could go on for years with the specific stories I have that represent who Nick was, but frankly we do not have that type of time.

So, how did Nick save lives? He saved lives by being unconditionally himself, with the friendships he made and the bonds he created, he added that extra piece of love in people’s hearts and minds. Being friends with Nick you knew you had someone who would have your back at the drop of a hat. That sense of knowing helps create the feeling that you are protected and when you feel protected you feel limitless in your pursuit of life. So, yes Nick helped people know that they are truly limitless. How does he save lives today? Well my friend all those people who he made feel limitless in their pursuit of life are now leading beautiful lives and are always reaching out to others to make sure they too know their lives are limitless. This is a beautiful ripple effect that will spread across not only the city of Keene, the state of New Hampshire, the region of New England, but the entire world.

We all now know even more of how precious life is, we really do thank you for that Nick. How fitting that on October 3, 2020 the day we are all supposed to graduate together your soul instead helped inspire a donation of $700, that is going to save so many lives just like you. Thank you, Nick, for being a best friend to so many. Thank you for saving so many people’s lives. Thank you for continuing to inspire others as they move forward in life. We love you.

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This tribute along with the $700 donation was shared with Mental Health Connecticut by Nick’s friends and family. They agreed to allow us to share this story in memory of Nick and in honor of the legacy he leaves behind. We hope it inspires you ;