2017-07-13 / Obituaries

Ralph H. Knepper

Morrisville, Vt., 89

Ralph Herbert Knepper, 89, Morrisville, Vt., died Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at The Manor, a nursing facility in Morrisville, Vt.

Known to his many Fulton County friends as “Herbie,” he was born May 14, 1927, in Taylor Township, on a farm near Waterfall, the third son of John and Ruth (Strait) Knepper.

He attended the Gracey one-room schoolhouse and later graduated from Hustontown High School in 1945. In 1948 he entered Eastern Nazarene College in Wollaston, Mass. There he met the love of his life, Joyce Stanton, a fellow ENC student from Johnson, Vt. They were married August 18, 1950, in Johnson.

Graduating in 1952, he returned to Fulton County where he taught elementary school in Taylor Township for four years (1953-1957) while simultaneously completing a master’s degree in eduction from Penn State University.

Ralph and Joyce shared a strong love for God and a desire to help people that was reflected throughout their lives. They moved to Arizona and New Mexico, where they taught school and pastored Nazarene churches ministering ot the Navajo people. In 1968 they returned to Vermont where he was the principal and teacher at Eden Elementary School while pastoring at the Nazarene Church in St. Albans, Vt. (1968-1977). Subsequently, the couple completed counseling training through the Youth With A Mission organization in Hawaii. He then worked in a refugee camp in Thailand and established a preschool there. He also travelled and ministered throughout Asia. Later the couple established counseling centers in California and New Brunswick, Canada, before returning to Johnson to retire.

Although he had lost much of his eyesight by the time they retired to Vermont, he continue to be involved in caring for people, remaining active in the Lamoille Valley Church of the Nazarene well into his 80s. He and Joyce also volunteered weekly at The Mano and Teen Challenge. The couple always had an open door, room for one more at the table and enough love to go around. If you timed it right, there were pancakes, maple syrup and homemade sausage.

He was preceded in death by his wife in 2014.

He is survived by a sister, Elva Lane, formerly of Hustontown and currently a resident of Heritage Hills Retirement Home in Greencastle and four children: Carol Allen (Arnold), Birch Bay, Wash.; Christine Manchester (Alan), Johnson, Vt.; Cheryl DeKoning (Nick), Bukaya, Uganda; and Ivan Knepper (Chery), Jacksonville, Ark.; 11 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held May 27 at the Church of the Nazarene in Waterville, Vt.

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