Hillsboro – Norman F. Epp, 78, died April 6, 2018 in Hillsboro. He was born January 14, 1940 in Hillsboro to Edwin F. and Margaret (Flaming) Epp. He married Rosella M. Ediger August 4, 1961 in Henderson, Nebraska. He worked Construction and Farming for many many years. Survivors include: wife, Rosella Epp of Hillsboro; daughters, Lois (Craig) Wollman of Freeman, South Dakota, Karen (Dave) Franklin of Wichita; son, David (Jenny) Epp of Rural Hillsboro; sisters, LaVerna (Alden) Quiring of Henderson, Nebraska, Evelyn Peterson of Clyde, Kansas, Rosalie (Roy) Mays of Enid, Oklahoma; brother, Alvin (Kay) Epp of Bradshaw, Nebraska; 8 grandchildren. Celebration of Life Service 11:00 a.m. Thursday, April 12, 2018 at Parkview M.B. Church in Hillsboro. Interment 10:00 a.m. Thursday at Gnadenau cemetery rural Hillsboro. Family will receive guests from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday at Jost Funeral Home in Hillsboro. Memorials to Parkview Church or Tabor College in care of Jost Funeral Home P.O. Box 266 Hillsboro, KS 67063. Online condolences at www.jostfuneralhome.com
Norman Floyd Epp was born in a snowstorm on January 14, 1940 to Ed and Margaret (Flaming) Epp. At the time, they were living on a small rental farm on the prairie northwest of Waldeck, Kansas, a small cattle town near the Rock Island railroad. Because the railroad underpass had drifted shut with the heavy snow, a team of horses were needed to pull the car through so they could make it to the hospital in Hillsboro in time for the birth.
Norman’s parents read the Bible for themselves and also read Bible stories to him, and later his three sisters and brother. On Sunday afternoons, His mother often read Christian magazines to them, like the Young Ambassador and the Junior Messenger. Christian radio broadcasts were also an important part of his religious instruction.
One time in particular Norman was listening to the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour” and Charles Fuller was asking the “sailor boys” in the audience to accept the Lord before going out to sea. At that point Norman recognized his own need, so he confessed his sins and accepted Christ as his personal Savior.
During his high school years Norman went through catechism classes at the Lehigh Mennonite Church. In fact, he voluntarily went through the classes twice to make sure he had learned and internalized as much as possible. As a public show of his commitment to Christ, he was baptized and joined the church.
Norman loved helping his dad on the farm, driving the Allis-Chalmers tractors in the fields and caring for their small herd of cattle. He attended Lehigh High School and somehow still found time to play basketball and softball.
He attended Tabor College where he started dating Rosella Ediger from Henderson, Nebraska. They married on August 4, 1961. After graduating from Tabor, he taught at Lehigh High School, then he and Rosella taught for two years in Newfoundland, Canada serving under Mennonite Central Committee.
In 1965 the couple moved to Wichita. Norman taught history in three different junior high schools and received his master’s in education from Wichita State University. During this time their daughters Lois and Karen were born. Norman and Rosella enjoyed teaching Sunday School and singing in the choir at the First Mennonite Brethren Church, which was then at the 17th and Gow location in Wichita’s Indian Hills neighborhood. They and several other families bought houses near the church and enjoyed the close community. Norman was privileged to serve on the building committee for an education wing built during that time, and also served on the elder board, and the Christian Education Board.
In 1975, Norman’s father, Ed Epp, was ready to retire from farming, so Norman and Rosella moved back to the Hillsboro area to take over the family farm. They also purchased other land to farm, and Norman worked in construction. In 1977, they were thrilled with the birth of their son, David.
The family joined Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church where Norman served as an elder and a deacon. He also enjoyed singing in the choir.
Norman was active with the Marion County Farm Bureau and served as president for four years. Soil conservation was also important to him and he served more than 20 years as a Marion County Conservation District Supervisor.
Norman was happy that all three of his children chose to attend Tabor College, and that they all met their spouses there as well. Norman and Rosella were happy to become grandparents in 1996, and in the next few years they had five grandchildren.
In 2001, Norman underwent surgery for colon cancer. Still, he managed to continue his roofing business, with Rosella picking him up from job sites to go to his chemotherapy sessions.
Eventually Norman decided to quit farming. On April 3, 2004, Norman and Rosella held a farm sale and that same day moved into their new home on 402 Floral Drive in Hillsboro.
Norman continued Epp Roofing and Construction, mainly employing Tabor students who had an afternoon or occasional block of free time. He enjoyed getting to know the students, was often invited to their weddings, and always loved seeing them and their families when they came back to Tabor for Homecoming and other events.
In 2007 Norman and Rosella took a Caribbean cruise with Karen and her family. They also went on several Sam’s tours. In 2008 they went to Alaska and in February of 2011 they went to Yellowstone National Park.
On August 7 of 2011 Norman missed his own 50th wedding anniversary celebration held here at Parkview by landing in the hospital the day before with acute pancreatitis. He was able to enjoy the video we took at a later date.
Norman’s lengthy recovery forced him to retire from his business, so he was able to spend more time with his grandchildren and attending their events. And David and Jenny gave him three more grandsons.
In October of 2016, Norman received the unwelcome news that he again had colon cancer, stage 4. He chose to buy as much time as possible by undergoing chemotherapy.
He made a mental bucket list of things he wanted to do: go to Laurel’s swim meets, go to Andrea’s state track meet, go to Minneapolis to hear Bethany sing in her college choir, see Kyle compete in the National pedal pull championship, have one more fish fry with fish Caleb caught, welcome Harrison home after his Coast Guard training, attend Lincoln’s piano recital, and hear the Messiah in Tabor’s new performing arts center.
And he did all of these things. And when he checked them off the list, he kept adding more, because he loved life and he loved people.
And when he had a good day, he would go out to his Morton building and work on 20 wooden toy dump trucks that he was building for all of his grandkids and his siblings’ grandkids. This past Christmas, after he had read the Christmas story and led our traditional time of sharing, he handed out the completed trucks to his grandchildren.
Norman was a charter member of the Kansas Mennonite Men’s Chorus, which was organized in 1969, and he counted it as a privilege to sing in it every year until the present. He traveled with the group to Canada, California, and the East Coast. A number of family members were able to hear him sing with the choir last May for the 49th season. One item that he didn’t get checked off his bucket list was singing a concert in the 50th season, which will be held at the MCC sale this weekend. Instead, he is with the saints who have gone before, singing in heaven.