R. Wayne Eipperle
July 11, 1930 – June 30, 2022
VISITATION: Wednesday, July 6th from 5pm to 7pm at the West Center Chapel. FUNERAL: Thursday, July 7th at 10:30am, Vietnamese (Lake Forest) Alliance Church, 11268 Lake Forest Drive, Omaha. Memorials are suggested to: Endless Journey Hospice; Samaritan’s Purse; or Open Door Mission.
A man who faithfully loved Jesus, a devoted and cherished husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and loyal employee, Richard Wayne Eipperle was called into the arms of his Lord and Savior on June 30, 2022.
He was genuine. An optimist. Selfless. A witness in the way he walked. He wouldn’t dare say this, but we will: He was a gentleman without seeking fanfare, always carrying a handkerchief in his pocket for anyone’s use because he was raised so and remained so.
Mind you, he was not against the occasional pointed suggestion, like aiming the tip of his fishing rod at a choice hole and telling you it’d be wise to cast your lure there. “There’s a fish in there.” And he wanted YOU to catch it. That was him. A giver not a taker. Although, let it be recorded: He took so, so, so many fish out of that water. Even the bass had to respect the man’s skill. We all did. It was his unconditional love, however, and steadfast faith so many of us admired most.
He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 11, 1930, to Arthur and Rose Eipperle. He lived with a can-do spirit even while dealing with early difficulties such as the loss of his father when Wayne was 2 1/2, and the death of his dear brother, Arthur “Happy” Eipperle, from polio when Wayne was 19. Wayne and Happy were so inseparable throughout their youth that those who knew them well often remarked, “Here comes WE and HE.” And WE would speak for the rest of his life with an abundance of affection for HE.
Wayne was raised to work hard and give thanks for what he had. Wayne helped the family by working at the Benson Bakery. He spent his summers on Uncle Justin’s ranch during World War II, picking up useful skills and outdoor hobbies he carried with him through life. His mother instilled in him an example never forgotten about what caring for your family should look like. She rose to the challenges of the times. She helped her brother build a house for her family on an acreage. Wayne fondly remembered seeing her on the roof nailing shingles. She cared for other family members too, including mothering Wayne’s three cousins (Shirley Ann, Rose Arlene and Carolyn Yvonne), who lived down the block and were like sisters to Wayne and Happy. “Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty – they will wash!” his mother told them all. For Wayne, it was advice well received.
He was a graduate of Omaha Technical High School. A machining class there captured his fascination and led him to begin a career at G & G Manufacturing Company on February 15, 1948. Wayne would work there for 50 years, ascending to various leadership positions and eventually becoming the Vice President of Engineering. He was a mentor to many, including his son, Lowell. Wayne had an inventive mind and was a problem solver for the company, trusted in all facets.
As a young man, he met Dorothy Eunice Milbauer while attending church. He saw her in the choir and concluded on the spot, “I’m going to marry that girl.” Sure enough, the date was December 27, 1952. Their union was blessed with four children, and many grandchildren to follow. Wayne and Eunice were a tight-knit team as their family grew, instilling in each of them a strong work ethic, a love for Jesus and family. They were together for more than 30 years until she passed away on May 31, 1983.
The Lord would bless him with another love of his life when he later met Evelyn Nissen Babcock. He said after their first conversation on the phone he “just loved the sound of her voice” and knew she was the one. If further confirmation was needed, while the two were still dating and fishing in a bay on the lake appropriately named “Lovers Lane,” a yellow warbler landed on Wayne’s rod, then flew over to Evelyn’s rod. Consider it a nice romantic touch from a lake friend.
Wayne and Evelyn wed on June, 15, 1996, and recently celebrated their 26th anniversary. They made a warm and welcoming home together, and were prayer warriors for their family, friends, and anyone who needed it. They shared grand adventures – traveling to Alaska, New England, New Zealand, Australia! Wayne could fondly recall the precise details of their journeys – people they met, places visited, and experiences they built together. Wayne and Evelyn also enjoyed life’s simple pleasures, especially each others company. They spent countless hours at the kitchen table, enjoying the view of their yard and the many visitors to the bird feeder. Their marriage also offered him four more children to love, and more grandchildren to take pride in, support and encourage.
As his grandkids grew, whatever they were interested in, he was interested in hearing about. He spent his career fixing machines that might be worth $100,000, but would put just as much care into fixing a grandkid’s toy that was worth, well, $1. Wayne was meticulous in every thing he did. He was always curious to learn more. An avid reader, he would devour a book he liked in a matter of days, read every instruction manual from cover to cover, and the daily newspaper was always within his reach from the kitchen table – as close as his nearest cup of coffee. He could discuss with depth something he’d just read in a book about the Revolutionary War and just as easily transition to conversation about the day’s current events, or offer the best advice a person could get on any house project.
If you had a fishing tale to share, all the better. He saved his money and put it toward building something family and friends could all enjoy. Wayne and Eunice started working on their dream cabin in 1977 on Big Sugarbush Lake in Minnesota. “The next five or six years the cabin was completed. Eunice told me it was one of the most fun times we ever had – and I agreed,” Wayne wrote.
Wayne always got a little excited when turning off the highway pavement to the gravel road, knowing he would soon be at what he affectionately called his “A Lure Inn”. You wind through the woods on a dirt road for those last few miles, gravel kicking up as the foot pushes down just a little harder on the pedal until … you’re finally there, the peaceful place he always envisioned. “The Lake means more to me than the fishing. It has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my life,” he wrote. Every spot on the lake holds a memory with someone. He could recite them all.
Wayne was an all-around outdoorsman. He was an excellent marksman and hunter. Whether it was hunting or fishing, it was just special to be in his company. If you were in his boat, even if you didn’t catch a thing, you didn’t come home empty. You had been with him. If not in his boat, you wanted to have a seat next to him on the cabin deck facing the lake. More precisely, on that porch swing where he often sat, looking through the trees out to that beautiful blue, maybe a slight ripple on the water, leaves rustling, the loons singing their song in the distance….
Amidst the wonder of God’s creation, his eye was always trained on the most important thing of all – his faith in Jesus Christ.
He attended the Benson Alliance Church as a young teen, before the location moved and changed its name to Lake Forest Alliance Church. He served for many years on the elder and governing boards. You didn’t have to lean in to hear him sing a hymn on a Sunday. He couldn’t carry a tune, but that didn’t worry him at all. If ever brought up in humor, he reminded us of the verse: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
With his dear wife, Evelyn, holding his hand, and his family gathered around him singing hymns, Wayne was called home. The words aren’t just words to those who believe, and Wayne believed. There is a promise. Eternal. Wayne is not in the garden alone today.
“And He walks with me. And He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own…..”