Mary Laurie Epperson
Mary Laurie Epperson
June 6, 1922-April 11, 2016
Mary Laurie Epperson, 93, died April 11, 2016, at South Peninsula Hospital. “Our beloved mother, friend and teacher passed away,” her family said. “She left behind a legacy that will be forever remembered.”
Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. June 25, 2016, at the Mariner Theatre and Homer High School Commons.
Mary was born June 6, 1922, in Los Angeles, Calif., to Mexican immigrants, Ramon Espinosa De Los Monteros and Margarita Camou Espinosa. She had one sister, Emma Luz Espinosa Sosa, and a step-brother, Raymond Espinosa.
Mary met her husband Jack Epperson and in 1942 they were married in Los Angeles. They had two children, Terry and Dean. In 1954, Mary’s life changed dramatically. Jack decided the family would move to Alaska. So in October 1954 they packed up all their worldly goods, bought a bunch of warm clothes and off they went.
They filed for a homestead up in Happy Valley, and while improving on their property they moved into a one-room log cabin called Groggin’s Cabin, which was about a mile from their homestead. This little cabin had no electricity or water, and they had to use an outhouse. It was not insulated and the sky could be viewed between the logs of the cabin. Somehow they managed to survive that first winter, but the homestead cabin was not progressing as fast as they had hoped. In an effort to stay warmer the following winter, they decided to file on a home site in Ninilchik. They found the perfect plot of land right across from the Ninilchik School.
Jack built them a small, one-room cabin out of rough-cut lumber he had milled in his sawmill on the homestead. Mary still did not have modern conveniences such as running water and indoor plumbing. However, they were able to hook up to the power grid, and best of all, Mary was now near people. She immediately involved herself in the school and became a substitute teacher, teaching music and dancing. She also taught piano to some of the local children, free gratis. However, she had to use the school’s piano as she still did not have her own. Finally, Mary was able to purchase a piano of her own from Anchorage.
After a year they decided the Happy Valley homestead was just too difficult to improve on, so they found another homestead, this time in Anchor Point. They built a “luxury” house. This one had three rooms, but still no modern conveniences, however. In time, electricity was brought in, which made living much better. Wanting to continue giving piano lessons, she struggled to make the 3-mile trek out of the homestead to get to a gravel road where traveling was a bit easier in order to teach the continually growing children and adults who wanted her to teach them piano.
In time, money became an issue and she and Jack decided they needed to get “real” jobs, so they left the homestead and moved to Homer. Mary soon got a job as the city’s treasurer. She continued to teach piano in her students’ homes. Finally, she decided she needed to have a music studio of her own so her students could come to her. She retired from the city and found a little building on Pioneer Avenue in Homer, fixed it up and called it Etude Studio. All Mary’s dreams had finally come true.
Mary had a great part in establishing the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage, and the Homer Council on the Arts. She was involved in any and everything involving the arts and education.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents; her sister; her grandson, Shane Harrington; her husband, Jack; and her son-in-law, Stan Harrington.
She is survived by her daughter, Terry Harrington; her son and daughter-in-law, Dean and Cindy Epperson; three grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; five great-great grandchildren, plus multitudes of wonderful friends she thought of as her extended family.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Kachemak Bay Campus Mary Epperson Student Endowment at 533 E. Pioneer Ave., Homer AK 96603 and/or the Homer Foundation, P.O. Box 2600, Homer AK 99603.
Terry Harrington can be reached at P.O. Box 1473, Anchor Point AK 99556 and Dean Epperson can be reached at 6901 Round Tree Drive, Anchorage AK 99507.