With the passing of Ernest Epps on Nov. 15, Royse City, Rockwall County and Hunt County lose a faithful, quiet servant friends say.

Mr. Epps, as he was known, was 82 years old, when he died.

“He’s always had the utmost respect of everybody — everybody calls him Mr. Epps,” said Royse City Mayor Jim Mellody.

This was the first year Mr. Epps had not had a community garden in his yard — a garden known not only in Royse City, but in Rockwall and Greenville too.

“He would grow greens and just give out to the community — we used to go out and pick greens out of his greens patch,” said Roy Price, pastor of Price Temple Church of God in Christ in Greenville, who has known Mr. Epps for 17 years. “He didn’t charge for the greens, he didn’t limit it to just Royse City, just neighboring towns.”

He loved sharing the produce, Mr. Epps had said in past interviews.

“He was a great man,” Price said. “He was a great churchman and he held several offices in his church,” Price added.

Epps attended New Hope Baptist Church of Royse City.

He also visited at times the First United Methodist Church. “Mr. Epps did attend our revivals for many years, he would just quietly appear and sat ever so reverently and listened to the Word of the Lord,” said Cathy Partridge, associate pastor First United Methodist Church.

“Mr. Epps was a listener,” said Sam Buffington, long-time Rockwall civic leader, “and he tried his best to go out there and take the things God had laid on his heart to get it accomplished.”

Some of those accomplishments included serving on the Royse City city council, housing authority and planning and zoning.

He came to Royse City in 1954.

“That was during a time that work was kind of scarce,” Epps said, during an interview in April. “I came out here and started working construction.”

From there, he went to Dearborn Stove Company in Garland, where he worked until it closed.

His wife, the late Della Jackson Epps, who preceded him in death in 1999, taught in Rockwall for 36 years, both at the Bourne Avenue School and for the Rockwall ISD once integration took place.

Mellody noted that he never saw Mr. Epps angry.

“You know I grew up in this town and I’ve always seen him and I’ve never seen him mad or angry and you know in his lifetime and my lifetime he’s gone through racial problems, and to be the way he is speaks highly of him,” Mellody said in an interview Monday.

In an April interview, Mellody described Mr. Epps’ leadership as invaluable — on city council, planning and zoning and the housing authority.

Mr. Epps’ civic service inspired the longtime civic leader of Rockwall, Sam Buffington.

“He inspired me to do it,” Buffington said of his Rockwall city council tenure. “ I seen how he was giving with the community. Once I seen how he dealt with the community he inspired me to get more involved.”

It was Mr. Epps’ goodness which also struck Buffington.

“He talked to me down through the years about right and righteousness. I lost my dad and mom; he took up with me as a father.”

Epps was remembered during the meeting of the Royse City Independent School District last week as well.

“It is my understanding that Mr. Epps was an employee of this district for around 10 years,” RCISD Superintendent Randy Hancock told those in attendance.

“The last time I saw him, unfortunately, he sat right back there with the pastor and made us aware of a few things.”

Mr. Epps and his wife built their Royse City home in 1963.

Forty-five years later, in April of this year, he took the inaugural ride across a bridge and portion of Farm to Market 35 near his home that was renamed in his honor.

Passersby on Interstate 30, though more than likely not knowing him, will see the exit sign for “Epps Road” and perhaps wonder just for whom the road is named.

It is named for a man whom a Royse City citizen once said, “You could not meet a better man than Brother Ernest Epps.”

Recommended for you