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Elma M. Lepej 1916-2019
obits_vlc_Elma Lepej.jpg
Elma M. Lepej 1916-2019

Elma M. Lepej, 103, passed away August 11, 2019, at Woodhaven Care Center, Ellinwood. She was born on June 30, 1916, in Rush County to George Raymond & Nellie (Burky) Laughlin. She was raised by her paternal grandparents after the death of her mother in childbirth. 

At ten years of age, her father married Bessie Burkch of McGhee, Ark., and the twins, Elma and Elmer, moved to Arkansas with them. To this marriage were born William J. and Elizabeth Alice. They moved back to Hoisington at the end of their sophomore year in high school. Elma and Elmer moved back to LaCrosse with their grandparents and graduated from LaCrosse High School in 1934. 

Elma married Joseph “Joe” Lepej on April 17, 1943, at Great Bend. He died May 15, 1988. They moved to Junction City where Joe had a Civil Service job at Ft. Riley. After Joe was called into the Army in World War II, Elma returned to Great Bend where she worked at Western Paper until Joe returned from overseas. They then purchased a shoe repair shop in Council Grove in June 1947. Their daughters Jo Kay was born January 31, 1947, and Patti Jean was born February 7, 1951. The family returned to Great Bend in 1965. 

Elma was an active member of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Great Bend. She sang in the church and community choirs from high school through her eighties. From 1966 - 1973, Elma was a secretary/receptionist for Dr. Richard Herold, D.D.S. and then worked for 12 ½ years as the secretary at First Congregational United Church of Christ, until she retired in 1987. She was a life member of the Order of Easter Star (Golden Sheaf Chapter 26), V.F.W. Auxiliary #3111, Central Kansas Thread Benders, Dorcas Circle, and A.A.R.P.  After her retirement, Elma was also a board member of the Barton County Emergency Aid and also worked part-time at the Barton County Community College Center for Adult Education as a secretary.  

Survivors include, one daughter, Patti Smith and husband George of Isle, MN; one sister, Elizabeth Wilson of Chicago, IL; three grandchildren, Tyler Mermis, Taryn Baca and Tierney Mermis; and five great grandchildren, Blaine Mermis, Bryce Mermis, Brynn Mermis, Hayley Suchy and Kamryn Baca. She was preceded in death by her husband Joseph “Joe” Lepej; one daughter, Jo Kay Lepej; twin brother, Elmer Laughlin; and brother, Judge William Laughlin.

Visitation will be held from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 13, 2019, at Bryant Funeral Home and from 9:00 a.m. to service time, with family receiving friends from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 14, 2019. 

Funeral Service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 14, 2019, at Bryant Funeral Home in Great Bend with The Reverend Adam Wutka and Pastor Mike Munz presiding. Interment will be in the Great Bend Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the First Congregational United Church of Christ, St. Mark Lutheran Church, or Masonic Lodge #15, in care of Bryant Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent and notice viewed at

Funeral arrangements provided by

Bryant Funeral Home

1425 Patton Road

Great Bend, Kansas 67530 

Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Aug. 13, 2019