George Hapner of Fulton was born March 2, 1934 in Kosciusko County to Jesse and Waneta (Sroufe) Hapner. He joined his beloved wife Beverly of sixty four years in heaven on April 11, 2022. When asked recently for any words of wisdom he would share he said, “Never stop growing.” He often spoke of the mentors he had throughout his life that helped him grow as a man and a Christian. In return he was a mentor to many as a father, friend, pastor, teacher, and guidance counselor.
He grew up in the Roann area and was called “Captain” by brothers Dale and Pete and sister Margaret. He and his brothers enjoyed nature, hunting, fishing and swimming in the creek. He graduated as salutatorian from Roann High School in 1952.
The first in his family to go to college, he started his college career at Asbury and graduated from Marion College in 1957. He began his teaching career at Gilead High School teaching social studies and moved to North Miami when the schools consolidated. During that time he took summer classes over many years to become a guidance counselor. He earned his Masters degree from Ball State University in 1966. In 1967 he became the high school guidance counselor at Caston High School. He loved his last few years as the elementary counselor, enjoying both the children and the close-knit staff. He retired in 1996. During all these years he touched so many lives and helped them grow.
Leading others to a close relationship with Christ was paramount in his life. He started preaching at Gilead United Methodist Church and Ebenezer in 1957. He later was the pastor at Denver First Brethren Church. He was called to pastor again at the Fulton United Methodist Church. The day after he retired as their pastor he was called to be the visitation pastor for Grace United Methodist in Rochester. He often spoke of the members of his congregations that helped him grow as a pastor even while he was serving them. Over the years he was with families on their happiest and saddest days as he performed many weddings and funeral services for family, friends, and former students.
The people he helped grow the most were his five children. He and Beverly were devoted parents making sure their children knew Christ and knew how to work, learn, and serve others. Much of the learning to work part took place in the garden where a large portion of the family’s food was grown. There was nothing he enjoyed more than being in the garden with the whole family and he would start going through the seed catalog in January looking forward to those warm spring days when he could start planting again. Others in the community often shared in the bounty of fruits and vegetables and enjoyed his beautiful flowers.
He is survived by his children, Jill and husband Tim Strasser, Fulton, Jeff and wife Molly Hapner, Chicago, Jeanna and husband Allen Paschen, Twelve Mile, Jayne and husband Brett Tam, Rochester, Jack Hapner and friend Heidi Rich, Kokomo; grandchildren Adam and wife Scarlett Strasser, Amber and husband Nick Hinderlider, Andrew and wife Laneia Strasser, Ryan and wife Kelsey Paschen, Crysta and husband Justin Bowyer, Matt and wife Jessica Paschen, Kelly and husband Adam Shidler, Alicia and husband Ryan Helt, Mitchell and wife Kate Tam, Helen and husband Abe Lubetkin, Bridget and husband Ethan Seldman, Sarah and husband Travis Bolinger, Emma, Molly, and Claire Hapner; great-grandchildren Marley, Delaney, Shayley, Paisley, Ayden, Addison, Violet, Lane, Drew, Darah, Rilyn, Rachel, Kimberly, Henry, Hazel, Harriet, Annemarie, Magnolia, Caroline, Camden, Maggie, Kate, and August; great-great grandchild Aspen; and grandchildren of the heart, Cameron, Quinten, KayLea, and Blakely. He was preceded in death by his wife, Beverly (Byrt) Hapner on October 18, 2017, brothers, Dale Hapner and Pete Hapner and sister, Margaret Zartman.
A celebration of his life will be held at 1:00 P.M. Saturday, April 23, 2022, at the United Methodist Church, Fulton, with visitation following from 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. at the church. Burial will be at a later date at Fulton Cemetery, Fulton.
In lieu of flowers, please honor his memory by following his example of telling the people you love that you love them, mentor someone, tell your mentors you appreciate them, and be kind to everyone you meet.
Arrangements by Zimmerman Bros. Funeral Home, Rochester, Indiana. Online condolences may be expressed at www.zimmermanbrosfh.com
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