Paul Howard Hepler

Paul Howard Hepler

Paul Howard Hepler, age 90, of Geneseo, went to be with his Savior on Saturday, July 25, 2020.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Howard Nathan Hepler and Sophia Kollis Hepler, and by his brother, Orville Melvin Hepler, and sisters, Althea Stockberger and Isabelle Odermann.

Paul is survived by his wife of nearly 68 years, Shirley Beebe Hepler, and his children, Eric (Kathryn) Hepler of Richmond, Va., Leah Hepler of Geneseo, Holli (Robert) Bush of Dayton, Ohio, and Paula (Theodore) Skaarup of Walla Walla, Wash. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Nathan (Martha) Hepler, Tara Hepler, Seth (Paige) Hepler, Luke Skaarup, Adam Skaarup, Lucia Skaarup, Lin Skaarup and Lian Skaarup, as well as his great-grandchildren, Eva, Oliver, Ezra and Solomon.

Paul was born Nov. 17, 1929, in Three Oaks, Mich. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955 and was stationed in Germany with the 299th Division Combat Engineers. He took his bachelor of arts degree from Western Michigan University and his master’s degree and education doctorate from Teacher College Columbia University where his thesis studies included the life and work of internationally-known wood craftsman George Nakishima.

While at Western Michigan University, Paul met Shirley Beebe while working on a parade float together. Symbolic to their future life together, she could identify each and every tool he requested. Hightower was the beneficiary of this artistic life partnership. They were married in August of 1952.

Dr. Hepler’s life work was at SUNY Geneseo (1956-2001) where his influence during 45 years of service was extensive. He was chairman of the Fine Arts Department and his teaching experience was long and varied. At SUNY Geneseo he developed the wood design program and supervised the growth of nine major teaching studios at the peak of Geneseo college growth in the 1960s and early 1970s. He served on the first Geneseo College Cabinet and was elected member-at-large to the first Geneseo Faculty Senate, serving multiple terms. He was art advisor for the college yearbook (Oh-Ha-Daih) and designed a variety of additional publications. He was design consultant for the new Brodie Building Fine Arts Gallery and supervised specifications for all art department studios and furnishings. He also co-founded the Geneseo College 25-Year Service Club with Dr. Merritt. Impacting lives through instruction and design provided much professional satisfaction to Dr. Hepler: thousands of students passed through his college studio and benefited from his influential teaching.

Dr. Hepler was a 1969 charter member of the State University of New York Council of Art Department Chairpersons, having served as chairperson, secretary and treasurer.

He has designed and produced rare wood furnishings, some of which have been displayed in galleries, along with his paintings and drawings. His final work for SUNY Geneseo was his contribution to the publication of a history of the college titled “SUNY GENESEO, From Normal School to Public Ivy, 1871-2007.”

Paul’s village of Geneseo community service included planning board chairperson, charter member of the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo, charter member of the Geneseo Warplane Museum, and participation in the Genesee Valley Land conservancy. With APOG, he designed the APOG logo and chaired the committee responsible for the relocation of the Erie Railroad Depot.

He was often seen walking about town in one of his various and well-recognized hats. He was known for being thoughtful and respectful and will be missed by all who have known him.

A graveside service will be held on Friday, July 31, 2020, at 10 a.m. in Lakeview Cemetery, David Gray Hill Road, Groveland, N.Y.

Memorial donations may be made to Pearce Memorial Church, 4322 Buffalo Rd., North Chili, NY 14514. To share a memory with the family or leave a condolence, please visit

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