In Memoriam: A Loving Tribute to Our Beloved Board Member

Karle Epple (February 10, 1932 – August 28, 2017) was an amazing individual who helped so many in the community.  He was a tireless and unassuming advocate for the charitable causes he believed in.  For over 21 years, he volunteered his time as a Board Member for Regional Hospice, and in that time he helped build Regional Hospice to where it is today.  He died peacefully on August 28th in the Center for Comfort Care and Healing, the very Center that he was so instrumental in building.

Karl’s rosy cheeks, big smile and love and devotion to his family and dogs was known to all who knew him.  He will truly be missed by all in our community.

His granddaughter, Karli, shares this touching tribute to her adoring Papa:

For those I haven’t met or for those who were hoping for name tags at the door, my name is Karli (Karl plus the i) Erickson. I am the first granddaughter after four boys and it’s always been an honor to be named after Papa. One special memory for me was naming our second daughter, Inge Epple, after him and having Papa present at Immanuel Lutheran to witness her being baptized in the same baptismal font as he was.

I feel privileged to have grown up with my grandparents 15 minutes away, 12 if Papa was in a hurry. Saturday nights in high school were spent making brownies or shattering glass pans with attempted lemon bars in Papa and Ommie’s kitchen, followed by some NCIS or a Hallmark movie. And though perhaps I longed for a few girlfriends to spend some time with, the truth is there are no better companions than Ommie and Papa.

With that in mind, here’s my top 5 reasons why grandparents make the best friends, and Ommie and Papa in particular.

First, they’re supposed to like you. This makes the getting along process much easier.

Second, you can help one another. In third grade Papa helped me make a simple machine. It was an M&M dispenser out of a half-gallon of milk. I still have no idea how “we” did it. My junior year of high school “we” made an abacus. On the other hand, there’s over a decade of Meserve powerpoints “we” created and it is no accident that my volunteer activities in high school took place at Regional Hospice and Danbury Hospital.

The third reason Ommie and Papa have been my best friends is a shared love of food. Whether we are eating it or discussing it, we undoubtedly love it. Our running joke was “You’re going to the grocery store again?” yet for Papa there was always a lemon crumb cake, or “just the top” of a blueberry muffin to be tried, though we long settled on tea times of irish soda bread, of which my cousin Emily and I have nobly taken on the task of trying to find the perfect recipe.

Fourth, grandparents always answer your phone call. Partially, this is because Ommie and Papa took a really long time to get caller-id, but even after, Papa still answered my calls often as I interrupted his standard lunch of soup and a salad with blue cheese that had a bit more blue than it really ought to have had, thanks to his tendency for frugality in the fridge.

We spoke nearly every day for the past decade, mostly about what many would consider the mundane–the last time we showered (usually less was more), our hair styles (his was surprisingly prone to sticking out), his food diary of the day (complete with a frozen waffle and syrup for second breakfast), and the news of all the cousins.

I can still hear him telling me about KK and Mark visiting Ben and Laura at BC or heading to Notre Dame to see Brendan and Julie in both of those marching bands. I remember the first time an Epple boy had a serious girlfriend (big news!) and all the skiing and bicycling trip pictures described to me one by one that included Matt, Erik, and Tim. Or more recently, his joy in watching videos of one of his great-granddaughters, Emery, dancing like her Mom, Katie, and thankfully, not like her Grandpa Gary.

My brothers Max and Christian, with his wife Lily, never ceased to have an endless array of shenanigans at which you could hear Papa shaking his head at over the phone. Though to be fair, he couldn’t quite fathom why I let my girls, Astri and Inge, stomp in mud puddles either. Thank goodness baby Josie (the 4th great granddaughter) seems to be such a model baby and of course my Mom, despite living just up the road mostly managed to evade our news cycle.

This brings us to our fifth and final reason why grandparents make the best friends. It’s because they are family. Each and every day Papa and I shared the ups and the downs of the entire Epple clan and his community. With him on the East coast and me on the West, we drank our tea, ate our irish soda bread, and cherished family near and far.

And if there was any doubt, if you have any affiliation with Heli-Coil, Danbury Savings Bank, Danbury Hospital, the Meserve Fund, Regional Hospice, or Immanuel Lutheran, among others, you too are family.

Thank you all for being here. And please, never hesitate to add a little bit more whip cream to your hot chocolate or spring for a full calorie packet of Swiss Miss over the diet kind in his honor. Thank you.”

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