Obituary of Joe Pepper
Elwood Joseph Pepper
September 14, 1945 – May 22, 2021
They say that everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives. Joe Pepper lived his life simply and with a true and open heart. He appreciated the beauty in each ordinary day. He loved to laugh! He was an outdoorsman who loved nature, his family and his friends. He loved my mother, Renate. To know him, was to experience unfailing and unconditional love.
Our dear Joe passed away on Saturday morning, May 22nd, 2021 after a lengthy and brave struggle with multiple illnesses.
Joe had little formal schooling and few employment opportunities because of his disabilities. But that didn’t stop him from blessing the lives of others. He tirelessly drove his mother to bingo, the stores and yard sales. He came to the rescue on a freezing winter night to pull a car and its frightened occupant out of the ditch of a narrow cottage access road. When one of us took up a small stock organic farming venture, Joe showed up to dispatch the critters to the freezer because the would-be farmer had “chickened out”. Other times we came home from work to find that our lawns got mowed, brand new nesting boxes appeared in the henhouse, cords of firewood got stacked, gardens got weeded, or a newly built clothespin box got installed by the clothesline stand.
He enjoyed listening to old-timey country music on Sunday mornings, driving his tractor and his 1959 Ford Fairlane, playing practical jokes (peering into our living room window wearing a gorilla mask), hunting deer, rambling through the woods, and cutting firewood. He loved to be out on the water, fishing from his boat or from the shore (he knew the best spots). He loved to craft things out of wood in his shop (including cutting out and painting wooden skunks to install on a certain family’s lawn.)
Joe loved family gatherings around the kitchen table heaped with Renate’s amazing cooking. He loved family movie night and never failed to fall asleep after the first 15 minutes or so. The only exception was the film, Duct Tape Forever. He enjoyed that one so much he stayed awake for the whole thing! He loved Chinese food and chicken balls in particular, Tim Horton’s Boston Crème donuts, fish and chips, potato chips (he loved potatoes a lot), and Susie’s dessert cakes.
He and Renate (he always pronounced her name “Rainy”) coaxed bushels and bushels of vegetables from the soil of their huge garden. They worked together in the kitchen to preserve the harvest and freely shared their garden’s bounty with others. The two of them loved to feed and watch the wild birds. With the intention of preventing uninvited guests from eating all the birdfeed, they devised a squirrel relocation program. They would trap the furry little critters, then take them for a drive and drop them off somewhere else. It wasn’t very effective, but they enjoyed the scenery and their time together.
Linda remembers a time that she and Joe went to get a tool from his workshop and discovered that a mother mouse and her tiny babies had made a nest in that spot. They stood silently watching in awe before leaving the creatures in peace. He would point out where the wild turkeys roosted at night and knew where to take us to safely watch black bears getting into mischief.
Joe didn’t talk much, but he said a lot. And when you spoke to him, you had his full, undivided attention. He was truly interested in what you had to say. He never spoke unkindly of anyone. He never judged. And when he experienced disappointment, misfortune or mistreatment, Joe harbored no hatred or grudges. He forgave any who had wronged him. There was no room for darkness in his heart, only love and kindness.
He was a living example of what the Bible teaches in I Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) Bible:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
We are all thankful for having had the privilege of knowing Joe and being loved by him. He has touched each of our hearts with a light we can carry with us the remainder of our lives.
Thank you, Joe.
We will miss you, and we will always love you.
Renate, Linda, Helen, Susie, Bruce, Karen, Ryan, Jeffrey, Leila, Bethany, Jeremy, Bob, Meta and Joe and Kiwi the parrot.