LaVerne (Vern) Walter Eugene Belke, 85, of Topeka, Kansas, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, re-joining his wife Carol, on September 3, 2017. His family believes the music in heaven is a little sweeter now Vern is singing in the heavenly choir. He was born August 8, 1932, in Northfield, Minnesota, to Walter and Mildred Belke, and was an only child.
While attending college, Vern met his forever bride Carol Kottke; they celebrated 59 years of marriage before Carol passed away in 2012. After brief teaching appointments in Minnesota for both, Carol and Vern moved to Denver, Colorado, where they resided for 28 years helping operate Belke Printing Company. Then they moved to Orcas Island, Washington, near Puget Sound where they owned and operated Gulls & Buoys Gift Store for 11 years. Vern and Carol dearly loved their island home where the mountains meet the sea.
Upon their retirement, Carol and Vern relocated to Spokane, Washington, where they spent the next 12 years together. While in Spokane, Vern survived bypass surgery and with the assistance of a caring neurosurgeon began dealing with Parkinson’s Disease, which challenged him for the rest of his life. To be closer to family, they moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 2009 and added love for Jayhawk basketball to their love for the Gonzaga Zags and undying allegiance to the Denver Broncos.
Vern and Carol lived a sacrificial life of service, first to their family, then to their church families and others in the community. They took in motherless children, led church youth groups, worked with the Boy Scouts, and were involved in other church ministries and acts of generosity and kindness.
Vern had an incredible gift for music. He directed orchestras, bands, and choirs all his life and made numerous friends and better musicians wherever he went, “praising the Lord all the day long.” Vern sang baritone and tenor, and although the clarinet and saxophone were his favorites, he played nearly every instrument in the bands he taught and astonished students by picking up their instrument and playing it flawlessly.
Vern is survived by his son Brad Belke (Terri) of Butte, Montana; son Scott Belke (Cyndie) of Kansas City, Missouri; daughter Kim Epps (David) of Topeka, Kansas; daughter SueLynn Bonham (Gordon) of Bristow, Virginia; and Carol’s sister Beulah Rule (Thomas) of Kansas City, Missouri. Vern is also survived by ten successful and talented grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
A memorial service celebrating Vern’s life will be held in the Brewster Place Main Building Chapel on October 8, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. with family and friends present. Memorial contributions may be made to Brewster Foundation, 1205 SW 29thStreet, Topeka, Kansas, 66611. Condolences and loving memories may be left at www.DoveCremation.com.
Vern, your family commends you on a life well-lived.