Bob Epple, college trustee and former lawmaker, dies

NORWALK - Bob Epple, who served on the Cerritos College Board of Trustees for more than 13 years, died April 13 after a protracted battle with leukemia.He was 62. He is survived by his wife, Colleen; daughter, Nicole; and many family members. Dr. Linda Lacy, president and superintendent of the college said, "Mr. Epple was a true Falcon. His intelligence, ability to analyze situations and to lead with impartiality made him a very strong board member. He will be missed, but his legacy will live on in the history of Cerritos College." Tom Jackson, president of the Board of Trustees said, "Bob was a friend and mentor to me for many years. His dedicated commitment to the students and the college community was unquestionable. He leaves a void in our hearts and on the Board of Trustees of Cerritos College. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends." After graduating from Excelsior High School in Norwalk and four years in the U.S. Army, Epple returned home to begin his college studies at Cerritos College. While at Cerritos he met his first wife, Cheryl. While he was an employee of the college, working in the college bookstore, Epple served on the first negotiating team for the Classified School Employees Association. He and Cheryl were active in the college's student activities program and in student government, an interest that grew into civic commitments for both of them. Epple graduated from Cerritos College in January 1974 with an associate in arts degree in economics and he earned the Silver Falcon award for service presented by the Associated Students. He went on to finish his college work and ultimately earned his law degree. In 1979 he became an attorney. Epple was elected to the Board of Trustees in November 1981 but missed his first meeting on Dec. 2, when he was supposed to be sworn in as a new trustee, because his daughter was born that night. Epple was reelected in 1985. Three years later Epple mounted a successful campaign and was elected to the California State Assembly in the 63rd district representing Artesia, Cerritos, Downey, East Lakewood, Hawaiian Gardens, Norwalk and Santa Fe Springs. He served as a member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and its Education Budget Sub-committee. Epple left the legislature in 1994. In 1993, Epple's wife Cheryl was elected to the Cerritos College Board of Trustees and served three terms until her sudden passing in July 2004. Cheryl's sudden death was a shock to the college community. With a vacant seat on the board, the trustees asked Bob Epple to return to the board and appointed him to complete Cheryl's remaining term. He was reelected to the board in 2005 and again in 2009. Epple was always active in his community. At the college he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cerritos College Foundation. He was a member of the Bellflower Noon Lions Club, served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Family Guidance Center, and was a past member of the Cerritos Optimists, the Cerritos Jaycees, the Frontier District Boy Scout Advisory Council, the Girl Scout Council of Greater Long Beach, Investment Committee and many other community organizations. Epple was fond of his time in the Assembly. According to a 1989 article in the Los Angeles Times, Epple sought legislation to reform school textbook purchases and to overhaul the way multibillion-dollar utility rate cases were decided. He also sought to win funds for the Norwalk Sports Complex and for a community swimming pool in Downey. Epple pushed for community facilities to help fight gang influences in his cities. The Times also reported that Common Cause commended Epple for rejecting honorariums for speeches from special-interest groups. Epple was quoted saying, "I think the public perception of honorariums is that they are attempts to buy votes." Controversy was also part of Epple's legislative list. He took an unpopular stand on assault rifle legislation and was also an author on the legislation requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. In 2010 Epple married his second wife Colleen. Until this spring he continued to be active at the college and on the board, and maintained his practice as a tax attorney. In recent years the college undertook a full review and rewrite of its board policies and procedures manual. Epple's contribution to this project was considered integral to the process. He and his wife joined other trustees at the college's student leadership conference in January, a highly regarded tradition at the college where student leaders and college leaders have an opportunity to meet in an off campus retreat setting and discuss the issues of importance to the students and the college. A memorial service for Bob Epple will be held on Monday, April 25 at 4:00 p.m. at the New Life Community Church, 18800 Norwalk Blvd., in Artesia.

********** Published: April 21, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 1