Edwin LaVerne Epp

Edwin LaVerne Epp was born on July 16, 1950 and grew up in Henderson, Nebraska. He attended Henderson Public Schools, Bethel College, and the University of Nebraska Law School.  He married Marilyn Crabb, with whom he recently celebrated their 50-year anniversary.  LaVerne passed away Monday, September 18, 2023.

His first career was practicing law with the Adrian & Walker Law Firm in Newton, Kansas. In 1986 he helped create the Retirement Management Company (RMC), joined their executive team, and moved with his wife and three children to Lawrence, Kansas. After helping to sell RMC in 2001, he was asked to serve as President of Bethel College, his alma mater in North Newton, KS, where he served until 2006.  In 2008 he helped create the Bioscience and Technology Business Center (BTBC) with support from the Kansas Bioscience Authority and the Lawrence Regional Technology Center. As Executive Chair of the BTBC, he helped spur economic development and job creation in Northeast Kansas, eventually creating the KU Innovation Park, where he worked until his death.

His various careers were tied together by his love for learning and tackling challenges.  He was an avid reader of Ralph Waldo Emerson and taught an Interterm course at Bethel College for several years entitled, “Emerson Meets Management”. He especially enjoyed mentoring students, providing them counsel and perspective as they made decisions for their own life direction. 

Playing running back for his high school football team, he had a lifelong love of sports and enjoyed watching the Kansas City Chiefs, the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, and various KU teams.  He also enjoyed spending summers in Santa Fe, NM, where he could satisfy his love of Classical Music by attending the Santa Fe Chamber Orchestra and Santa Fe Opera productions.  Being able to savor the mountain climate there with his family each summer was a special joy.

He enjoyed being “in charge,” especially at meetings, where things needed to move along at the pace he deemed appropriate and to the point.  Brevity in speech was paramount; too many words cluttered the environment. More than anything, he loved his family:  Marilyn Epp (Crabb), his wife, Tyler (Melissa) of Plantation, FL, Paul of Kansas City, and Susie of Lawrence, KS. His grandchildren, Malone (10) and Trey (8), to whom he was “Pops,” were very dear to him.

There will be a memorial service in his honor at Plymouth Congregational Church at 10:00am on Saturday, September 23, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQmlX9dVMd8

Memorials in honor of LaVerne can be made to the LaVerne Epp Memorial Fund at the Douglas County Community Foundation (DCCFoundation.org), and will benefit the KU Innovation Park (KUInnovationPark.com) and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

13 Condolences

  1. Ruth A. Bucey on September 20, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    There are no real appropriately sufficient words to describe the loss this has world has just experienced by the passing of this beautiful soul. His heart was full of grace for his colleagues and life. I personally have so much gratitude and so many blessings by knowing Laverne. I send my sincere condolences to his family and to our team at KU Innovation Park. His was loved by all of us. Ruthie

  2. Lisa Stehno-Bittel on September 20, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    We always knew LaVerne was in our corner. He was a strong advocate for all of the companies in the KU Incubator system and we were fortunate to be one of them. He will be missed badly and the new start up companies will miss out on the joy of working with LaVerne

  3. TND PRASADA RAO on September 20, 2023 at 8:26 pm

    Dear Mr Paul Epp,

    I am extremely sad and sorry to hear the news about demise of your beloved Father. May His soul rest in peace.

    Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India

  4. Nancy Hawkins on September 20, 2023 at 9:35 pm

    Dear Marilyn, I just returned from Santa Fe and am shocked to see your husband’s obituary. Please know I’ll be keeping you and your family in my heart and hoping that good memories will give you peace.

  5. Dennis and Darcilyn Depenbusch on September 21, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    Our condolences to the Epp family. It was a blessing to work for him and be welcomed into his family. He was a faithful leader with deep integrity and love for all who knew him. Our prayers are with you during this time.

  6. Sue and Dick Himes on September 21, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Marilyn and family,

    We are so sorry to read of LaVerne’s death. It’s been a long struggle for you all but we know you have lots of good memories of your lives together. We will be out-of-town on Saturday so cannot come to the service.unfortunately. We’ll be thinking of you..

  7. Donna Bell on September 22, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Marilyn and Family,

    To say LaVerne will be missed is an understatement. He touched so many lives, was so helpful and positive and a great mentor. I cherish the time I worked with him and still practice the many lessons I learned from him. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  8. Dulcy and Gordon Sellon on September 22, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    We are very sorry for your loss.

  9. Cal Downs on September 22, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    May the family be sustained by great memories of lives with a thoroughly loved and respected gentleman. His legacy is immense and you have the love and support of an entire community.

  10. Eve and Tim Anderson on September 23, 2023 at 8:52 am

    LaVerne will be missed by so many and is leaving such a legacy. His smile and warmth helped me find my footing during a time of uncertainty and transition. Paul, we are praying for you and your family.

  11. Neal Kingston on September 25, 2023 at 10:22 am

    The contributions Laverne made to all who were lucky enough to engage with him were immense. I enjoyed his vision, his intellect, and his kindness. I miss him already. I offer my deep condolences to his family and friends. He left the world, Lawrence, and KU a better place.

  12. Mary and Brower Burchill on September 25, 2023 at 3:22 pm

    Marilyn and family, We were just in Santa Fe and thought of you and your husband and wondered where your house was. Our thoughts are with you at this time. With love.

  13. Ryan Morrissey on September 27, 2023 at 11:14 am

    Growing up with Tyler, I was fortunate to spend a good deal of time with the Epps in my youth. Laverne was a remarkable man and will be missed. I remember how measured and confident he was. The intellect. The kindess. I look back at those days now, with adult eyes, and I see what his vision and hard work developed in our community. What a legacy he leaves behind both in Lawrence and through his wonderful family. I will always remember his genuine kindness to me and those wonderful childhood memories around Tyler and the whole Epp family. May you all find solace and warmth in your shared memories of LaVerne in this difficult time.

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