He was a member of the Bethesda Mennonite Church and as a young adult, he completed his volunteer service at Prairie View Hospital in Kansas and for the Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pennsylvania.Farming was a constant in Elmer’s life and following his voluntary service, he returned to Henderson to the family farm. He continued to manage his farms into retirement.
In December 1959, Elmer married Ella Mann and together, they had three children: David, Barbara (Peter Dessart) and Nancy (Paul Hohmann). The marriage ended in divorce in 1992. Elmer married Beverly Schelkopf on May 6, 2000. He and Bev shared many wonderful years together, including a love of animals, travel, and spending time with their families and beloved friends at the Paxton Ranch in Thedford.
The loss of Elmer’s brother at age three to Bright’s Disease may have been the catalyst that drew Elmer to develop a love for animals — cats, dogs, but especially horses.
Horses were a big part of his life, but it was watching his own children grow up and end their competitive horseback riding careers that prompted Elmer to begin competing horses in his late 50s. And not just pleasure horses — Elmer gravitated to one of the equestrian sport’s most dangerous avenues — competitive show jumping. He was a competitor on the Nebraska Hunter-Jumper circuit, winning the Cornhusker State Games competition in stadium jumping numerous times into his 60s. He also was a keen foxhunter, always taking his horse through the riskiest or most complicated obstacles as a member of the North Hills Hunt Club for many years.
Many 4-Hers throughout Nebraska were given a chance to work with horses due to Elmer’s generosity. Whether it was the loaning of a horse, a show halter, or a saddle, Elmer welcomed area 4-Hers to his barn and arena so they could participate in the hobby to the fullest.
Being active was important to him, and Elmer remained active even after he sold his last horse in his 80s. He swam most every day, but it was working around the farm with Bev that gave him great joy. Together, they enjoyed gardening sharing their harvest with others.
One of his greatest accomplishments was being a devoted grandpa to his granddaughter (and only grandchild), Faith Linfield Dessart. He found his true calling as a grandfather — supportive of Faith’s academics and extracurricular activities, especially her participation in the Duke University Talent Program, where he was a proud “Duke Grandpa.”
Elmer is survived by his wife, Beverly Epp, children, son David Epp and daughter Barbara (Peter) Dessart and granddaughter Faith. Elmer is also survived his step-sons Jeff (Teri) Schelkopf, Kurt (Shannon) Schelkopf, and Lewis (Lorraine) Schelkopf; step-daughters Kristin Swanson, and Nancy Dorsey. Also survived by several step grandchildren, and many step great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents and siblings.
Memorial services are scheduled for 10:30 AM, Monday, August 20, 2018 at the Bethesda Mennonite Church in Henderson. Private family inurnment will be held at a later date at the EMB Church Cemetery next to his brother, Donald. There will be no viewing or visitation as it was Elmer’s wish to donate his body to the Nebraska Anatomical Board to further medical education and research. In lieu of flowers, the family asks friends to consider memorials directed to Henderson Health Care Foundation or the Bethesda Mennonite Church, both in Henderson.