Statement on the passing of KU Innovation Park’s Executive Chair LaVerne Epp

It is with great sadness that KU Innovation Park announces the passing of its Executive Chair and long-time leader, E. LaVerne Epp. On behalf of the Park’s board and staff, we extend our deepest sympathies to LaVerne’s family, friends and all who were lucky enough to have crossed his path.

No words can sufficiently express the deep grief of this loss. The KU Innovation Park team is incredibly grateful for the time we had with LaVerne, a visionary leader with a natural talent for bringing people together. The value of partnerships was never lost on LaVerne. An incredible listener and mentor, he was dedicated to the mission and vision of KU Innovation Park, working tirelessly to ensure its success.

Dr. Douglas Girod, chancellor of the University of Kansas, offered this reflection about LaVerne.

“We are heartbroken by LaVerne’s passing, and we extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. LaVerne was a visionary leader who sought to improve our community through partnership, most notably as the executive chair of KU Innovation Park. It is because of LaVerne and the partners he brought together that the Park today stands among the most impressive university-based economic development organizations in the nation. Beyond his professional achievements, Laverne will be remembered for his extraordinary kindness and the way he treated people. He was humble, gracious and deliberate about sharing credit — because he truly believed every success was a team effort. Most significantly, LaVerne took genuine interest in everyone he met and made everyone around him feel important.”

“There will be time in the days ahead to fully celebrate LaVerne’s life and legacy. In the meantime, I would suggest the best way for us to honor his memory is to serve our community, and to do so with kindness and grace.”

LaVerne’s career began in 1976 when he joined a private law practice in Newton, Kan. Ten years later, he co-founded a development and management company for senior living. Its flagship community, Brandon Woods, brought LaVerne to Lawrence. In 2001, LaVerne was named president of Bethel College, his alma mater. His involvement with KU Innovation Park began in 2006 when he was asked to serve on the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority board.

“This center is more than a building,” LaVerne said during the 2009 groundbreaking for the first facility of what would become KU Innovation Park. “It is people, people who will link technology with business services and capital. People who will train and educate bioscience leaders and managers. People who will transform ideas into commerce.”

With LaVerne’s passing, the KU Innovation Park Board of Directors has announced that Adam Courtney will serve as interim Chief Executive Officer. Courtney has been the Park’s Chief Financial Officer for nearly a decade.