OBITUARY: Willard Abe Epp

Willard Abe Epp, 92, died Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, at Kansas Christian Home in Newton.

He was born on May 5, 1927, in Marion, S.D., the son of Bernard and Margaret (Jantzen)Epp. Willard attended grade school at Riverdale Country School and graduated from Marion High School.

When he was 18, Willard was baptized upon confession of faith by Jacob A Tieszen. He became a member of Bethel Mennonite Church near Marion, S.D., and later Countryside Christian Center and First Mennonite Church of Newton.

After high school, he attended Freeman Jr. College for one year and received a teacher’s certificate.

Willard then spent 23 months in the U.S. Army as a map compiler in Tokyo, Japan, during the Korean War. During this time, he endeavored to share his Christian faith by telling fellow soldiers that “Jesus saves.” He also was involved in missions that shared the gospel with the Japanese people.

He next attended Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada.

After a year at PBI, Willard returned to the farm for two years before being united in marriage to Elsie Ruth Wiebe on Aug. 31, 1958, in Aberdeen, Idaho. To this union were born six children. Willard and Elsie raised their children on a hog farm situated on a hill above the West Vermillion River valley, near Marion, S.D. They lived there for 28 years before moving to Kansas in 1986.

In Kansas, Willard worked for a home-repair company in Wichita and then had various factory jobs. In each of his places of employment, he strove to share his faith in Jesus, sometimes in bold and unconventional ways, such as rising unannounced in the break room at Collins Bus Factory to sing “Amazing Grace.”

Willard and Elsie lived at 129 E. Ninth until 2011, when they moved to Kidron Bethel Independent Living in North Newton. Willard was very involved with jail ministry and ministry of visitation.

Survivors include his sons Donald Epp of Pittsburg, Stan Epp and wife Esther of Newton, and Bryan Epp and wife Janell of Hesston; daughter Roselyn Mostert and husband Johan of Springfield, Mo., Rachel Winters and husband David of Tulsa, Okla.; former son-in-law Jesse Engle and wife Kendra of Newton; 20 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

He also is survived by his siblings Wadie Leder of Canistota, S.D., and Doris Hofer of Tea, S.D.

Willard was preceded in death by his parents, wife Elsie, daughter Naomi Engle, two sisters, Betty Wanda Epp and Wilma Epp, and brother Walter Epp.

Friends may call from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Broadway Colonial Funeral Home in Newton. Family will be present from 6 to 8 p.m.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Broadway Colonial Funeral Home in Newton with burial at Greenwood Cemetery at 2:30 p.m.

A memorial has been established with Prairie College. Contributions may be sent to Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, 120 E. Broadway, Newton, KS 67114.

Condolences may be left at

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