Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Jepsen taught at church farm


January 26, 2017

Richard Jepsen

Richard Jepsen, a longtime math teacher and gardener at Covenant Life Center, died Thursday at a care facility in Kalispell, Mont. He was 82 and had been suffering from complications of a recent stroke.

Jepsen was born to John and Elizabeth Jepsen on Jan. 12, 1935 in Hartford, Conn. He was the youngest of four children.

He graduated from Hartford High School in 1953. In 1957, he graduated from the University of Connecticut, with majors in math and physical education.

Jepsen taught high school and junior high math and biology in Windsor, Conn., for 20 years and also coached cross-country.

In 1977, he and wife Pauline moved with their eight children to Haines to join the Covenant Life Center, which opened the previous year near 26 Mile.

At Covenant Life's high school and college, he taught math. "You need to focus. He stressed that with his students and they always remembered that," said longtime friend Maria Brooks.

Haines High School social studies teacher Lilly Boron was one of Jepsen's students when the center's high school had about 20 students. "He was steady and had a lot of patience. He was a great math teacher. I was one of those students frequently called to the principal's office for my behavior, but he was relatively unflustered."

Jepsen tended the church farm's entire garden for years and in later years took care of the potatoes, Brooks said. "When it was garden time, that's what he did. It didn't matter if people helped him. He worked alone. He liked it," she said.

Jepsen and his wife moved from Haines in 2014 to join family members in Montana.

Brooks said it's understandable that Jepsen lived here 37 years in relative anonymity. "He was very quiet, very humble and very caring. Pauline ran the kitchen at the farm many years and they'd come shopping in town on Thursdays. But he wasn't a town person. He loved the farm."

Jepsen also was a devoted baseball and basketball fan, following his college alma mater's team through newspaper clippings. "He loved UConn. He was dedicated to them every basketball season. When he moved to Montana he was really glad he could watch the games because he didn't have a TV here," Brooks said.

In Haines, Jepsen also enjoyed taking walks and fishing.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Robert Jepsen, son Steven Jepsen, daughter Christine Moore, and two grandchildren.

Jepsen is survived by his wife, Pauline, of 58 years of Kalispell, sister Shirley Berner of East Hartford, Conn., brother John Jepsen of Columbus, Ohio, son Richard Jepsen and wife Sarah of Delta Junction, daughter Jean Kierce of Salem, Ore., sons Ken Jepsen and Peter Jepsen and daughters Sarah Carbajal and Beth Kimble, all of Kalispell, and by 18 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Jan. 28 at Hope Church, 436 Birch Grove, Kalispell.


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