Ric Epperle


Ric Epperle, 60, of Sheridan, Wyoming, died Monday, April 21, in Sheridan Memorial Hospital. Arrangements are pending with Champion Ferries Funeral Home.

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Ric Alan Epperle

Image Born July 4, 1953 in Corona, California, Ric was the first child of Eugene and Melba Epperle.

After leaving the Marin Corps, Eugene moved his family from southern California to the Weimer, California area where Ric grew up and finished grade school at Weimer Hills Elementary School and graduated from high school at Colfax high. From an early age Ric’s love and passion was with music. He started playing professional music with his father’s band at age sixteen as a drummer. He later moved on to bass guitar, singing, and keyboards, eventually learning pedal steel guitar to complete his music career right up to his passing at age 60. He traveled the mountain west and the mid west performing music and magic tricks, some fun he had picked up along the way, with the family band and, later, as a single entertainer.

He was a student of science with a deep interest in space, ham radio communications, and computers. He completed additional education in computers which enabled him to pursue perhaps his most profound interest, the SETI Institute.

Ric was a long standing member of the ARRL (American Radio Relay League), The Amateur Radio Emergency service, Cloud Peak Radio and Electronics Group, Team SETI, and the local country music group, “The Rapid Creek Band”. In 2003 he made his way to Sheridan, Wyoming to start a new life. He met Alta and they were married in 2011.

He was preceded in death by his father, Eugene in 2003 and his sister Patty in January of this year.

He is survived by his wife, Alta, of Sheridan, Wyoming; his two sons Paul and Ben of Great Falls, Montana; his mother Melba of Bayview, Idaho; his sisters Debbie (Neil) Peck of Bayview, Idaho and Susan Smith of Athol, Idaho; his brothers Gerald (Johnna) and David (Connie) of Cody, Wyoming; Roy of Montana; brother in law Dale Peck of Bayview, Idaho and four grandsons from Great Falls, Montana.

He deeply loved all of his family and will be missed by all.

Private services will be held at a later time.


Kuzara: Goodbye to my friend, Ric Epperle

Music mimics life in the respect that both are transitory.

The instrument is mute until it comes to life in the musician’s hands which give it voice to stir human emotion.

My friend Ric could make his steel guitar either sing or cry, and he always gave everything he played a feeling that flowed from his heart and mind, through his hands, to float out across the vibrations which carried those feelings into the consciousness of those who listened.

A gift given in a moment of time, received and accepted perhaps never being aware of the gift of his talent, but embraced nonetheless for that place in time occupied by the music of that song.

Ric’s guitar is silent now. When I last saw it standing on the stage covered by a green cloth keeping dust from settling on those strings, it looked strangely lonely.

I knew Ric was ill. I just didn’t realize just how sick he really was. The last time we performed together, he labored up the back stairs of the Elks club, wheezing as if he’d ran a mile. He gave me a weak grin and flopped down in a booth to catch his breath before stepping up on the stage.

“Look, man, you don’t have to do this,” I told him.

Ric gave me a stern look as if he’d been insulted. “I want to do this,” he insisted, then he added, “I need to play. It’s what I do.”

I am privileged to have heard Ric Epperle play his last tune, one he had taken a liking to called Hotel California that allowed him to make his steel wail for a life lost to human weakness.

To those who knew Ric, they know the irony of how appropriate this was.

There’ll be a new guy sitting in at that heavenly jam and it ain’t a harp they’ll be hearing! I love you, man.


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