Born in 1916 in Greenwood, Mississippi, son of a sharecropper on a cotton farm.
Triplett attended Alcorn State University, but left after one semester to teach in Washington County, Miss., in a school set up by the Rosenwald Foundation on a plantation for black children.
He left teaching to serve in the Army Air Corps at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama during World War II, and eventually moved to the Army Corps of Engineers to build roads in Liberia.
He came to Grand Rapids in 1945 because his wife, Shirley, had taken a job at American Seating. Mr. Triplett earned his bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University and later his master's degree when there were no teaching jobs open to him.
In landing the teaching post at South High in 1953, he took a pay cut of more than $1,000 from a factory job. He was one of the first African American men to teach in the Grand Rapids Public Schools (1953 through 1981).