SAN DIEGO, CA — Eugene R. Epperson, Age 98, of San Diego, California, and formerly of Troy, Ohio, died peacefully on January 1, 2021. He was born on September 15, 1922 at Hamilton, Ohio to the late Lillian Jones of Ohio and Orville H. Epperson of Kentucky. Gene was married to the love of his life, Kathryn J. (Roemer) Epperson, for 60 years. Gene and Kay were married on September 5, 1952. She proceeded his death on January 18, 2013.
Gene is survived by his nieces, Sandi (Epperson) Braun, of Tennessee, Pam (Epperson) Buell of Florida, and Diane (Epperson) Gray of New York. Gene was preceded in death by his brother, Gordon Epperson.
Gene lived an amazing life. After he was graduated from Hamilton High School, he enlisted in the Army in 1942. Gene’s first flight in an airplane abruptly ended when he jumped out of the side door as a paratrooper. Gene served in the 507th and 505th Parachute Regiments as part of the famed 17th and 82nd Airborne Divisions. Gene did not finish his Christmas dinner in 1944 because his unit was rushed to the front lines of the Battle of the Bulge where he served as a machine gunner. In 1945, Gene’s unit lead the assault in Operation Varsity, being first to parachute into Germany to secure a foothold over the Rhine River. Gene ended his military service in the occupation of Berlin.
Adventures in marriage, education, friendships, and more enjoyable travel filled his days. In all, Gene studied engineering, mathematics, or education at City of New York University, University of New Hampshire, MIT, University of Illinois, Cornell University, University of California Berkley, Sacramento State College, and Edison State Community College. Gene received a B.S. and Masters Degree from Miami University (Ohio).
Since Kay was also a teacher with identical vacation time, they had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, U.K., the Pacific, and Europe. A large wall map in their home was peppered with scads of pins that displayed their conquests. The map would have impressed even a diplomat. They hiked, traveled by car, cruised, canal barged, rode trains, mules, donkeys, hot air balloons, and bicycles. They even rented apartments in exotic locations for weeks or a month at a time. Their adventures and thirst for knowledge were the envy of all. They were fascinating company.
Over the course of 30 years Gene taught mathematics at three high schools in Ohio, Hawaii, and Fiji. In 1974, Gene was awarded “The Outstanding Educator Award” while teaching at Troy High School. Gene retired from teaching at Troy High School in 1979. He was a master teacher who enabled and inspired the successful careers of many grateful students.
After retirement, Gene returned to college and learned computer programming. This new career occupied Gene’s mind at Jackson Tube Company in Piqua, Ohio from 1981 to 1989 while he waited for Kay to retire. Then they moved to Hawaii and graciously entertained countless friends and acquaintances until Kay died. In 2013, Gene relocated to San Diego, California where he cultivated and enjoyed many deep friendships.
Gene enjoyed the company of good friends, entertaining, taking walks, and cooking. He loved to pet and dote on every dog he met. He was very fond of playing card and board games, especially Rummikub. With his sharp mathematical mind, even in his nineties he could play and win for hours at a time. To celebrate his 95th birthday a room full of people arrived at a party from all across the United States to express their love. Yes, Gene lived an amazing life.
Gene’s remains will be placed at The National Cemetery of the Pacific, (Punch Bowl) in Honolulu, Hawaii, to join those of his beloved wife, Kay.
Memorial contributions may be made in Gene’s name to The Troy Foundation, 216 West Franklin Street, Troy, Ohio 45373.