Roger Melvin Lepel, age 71, of Lester Prairie, spent the last weeks of his life at the Veterans Hospital in Minneapolis, where he left this world Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, surrounded by the love of his family.
He was born Nov. 9, 1942, in Plato, to Melvin and Verna (Tessmer) Lepel. His father was killed in action during World War II in Burma, leaving his mother to raise his sister and him alone.
Roger was brought up a Christian, and spent his youth as a member of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Plato, where he was baptized and confirmed.
He attended Plato Elementary, and later Glencoe High School, where he was a graduate of the class of 1960.
During Roger’s exciting and adventurous youth, he held various jobs including driving tractor for threshing crews around Plato; assembling egg cartons at Nyhammers Fairway and TF Miller; mixing plaster for Litzau Plastering, and working as a carpenter for Lepel Brothers Construction.
Roger was very involved in baseball in Plato, and helped in organizing many pick up games. He was a part of the team that were Crow River Champions in the mid-’60s.
Roger entered the United States Navy in April of 1961. He said he joined because he wanted a chance to see the world. He served as a radioman aboard the USS Yorktown, in California and the Phillipine Islands, and left the service honorably in May of 1965.
Roger then started working for Schwartz Manufacturing in 1965, as an inventory control clerk. He moved up through production control manager, plant manager, and finishing out his career with Schwartz as the operations manager for the Lester Prairie site.
In 1988, he made a change in his career path and became a rural route mail carrier with the Lester Prairie Post Office. This new position was a welcome change. He thoroughly enjoyed being in his mail truck every day, listening to his radio shows. He retired in 2001 because of persistent health problems.
Roger was united in marriage to Dianna Bentz June 13, 1970, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Winsted. Dianna and Roger had two daughters: Debra and Patricia. When Dianna’s nephews needed a family after the death of her sister and brother-in-law, Roger and Dianna lovingly welcomed the boys, Robert and Brian, into the fold.
The family has many wonderful memories of vacations to South Dakota, Walt Disney World, and the Grand Canyon, as well as numerous camping trips, and time spent at the family cabin on Collinwood Lake. Roger taught his children many valuable lessons and values.
After the children were grown, Roger and Dianna were able to do some more traveling, which included many fly-in trips to fish in Canada. They were also able to spend quality time with their grandchildren.
An avid hunter and fisherman, Roger enjoyed hunting pheasants, ducks, and deer; and fished all over the United States.
He was a league member of several bowling teams at Pla-Mor Lanes in Glencoe; several of those teams went to state competitions. Roger and Dianna also enjoyed being a part of a card club, and Roger always enjoyed a good game of sheephead or cribbage.
Roger was a member of Prairie Community Church of Lester Prairie from 1976. He served for several years on the council and endowment committees.
He is welcomed to heaven by his father, Melvin; and mother, Verna; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Edna and Albert Bentz; brothers-in-law Ronald Bentz, Harlan Bentz, Delmer Bentz, and Ted Bentz, and sister-in-law Marlene (Bentz) Schuette and her husband, Virgil.
Roger is survived by his wife, Dianna; daughters Debra (Mark) Lepel Rudy of Mound, and Patricia (Greg) Lepel Lange of Chaska; Robert Lepel of De Pere, WI, and Brian Lepel of Maplewood; grandchildren Samantha Rudy, Sydney Rudy, Josephine Lange, Blake Lepel, Dylan Lange, Jayden Lepel, Riley Lange, Chase Lepel, Joseph Lepel, and Ariella Lepel; sister and brother-in-law, Judy and Chuck Tomhave of Green Valley, AZ and their children, Roger’s nephews and niece; as well as many remaining members of Dianna’s family.
Roger was the eldest living male of the Lepels of Plato, and is also survived by several cousins; and his aunt, Katherine Lepel.
Funeral services took place Friday, Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. at Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel, with the Rev. Dr. Tom Rakow officiating. Interment, with military honors, will be at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Visitation was Thursday, Jan. 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Chilson Funeral Home in Winsted.
Casket bearers were Richard Gehlen III, Jim Holasek, Dustin Bentz, Jon Tomhave, Peter Tomhave, and Chris Tomhave.
The Chilson Funeral Home in Winsted served the family. Online condolences may be made to www.chilsonfuneralhome.com.