​Carl Epp, along with his late first wife, Hilda, and their four children served in Taiwan from 1972-1991. Pictured:
Carl, David, Hilda and Weldon. 

By Travis Duerksen
Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Carl Epp, who served as a doctor with Mennonite Christian Hospital (MCH) in Hualien, Taiwan, passed away March 6.

Carl, along with his late first wife, Hilda, and their four children served in Taiwan from 1972-1991, through the Commission on Overseas Mission (COM), a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network. After two years of internal medicine training in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and encouragement from Roland Brown, a COM doctor and administrator with MCH, Carl accepted a position at the Taiwanese hospital. There, he founded MCH's internal medicine department and oversaw training programs for medical students, interns and residents.

​Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, Taiwan, in the late 1960s. Photo by Sheldon Sawatzky.

MCH was founded in 1954 as a 35-bed hospital that served Hualien County and the larger eastern coast of Taiwan. Though the hospital was built through the assistance of COM and staffed by North American Mennonite medical workers, by the time Carl left in 1991, the hospital had transitioned to being fully staffed and operated by Taiwanese healthcare professionals. Today, MCH has grown to become the largest Mennonite hospital in the world, with 500 beds and more than 1,000 staff members across multiple campuses.

Carl received many awards for his contributions to MCH, including official recognition from Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, in 1996. When MCH completed a major renovation in 2003, Carl was invited to attend the dedication of the hospital's new library, which was named in his honor.

In an interview with Canadian Mennonite in 2003, Carl said that he began medical school in order to "work in a place where there weren't enough doctors. I wanted to help in training national people, so they could serve their own people. ... I had no particular time frame in mind when I arrived in 1972. But by 1991, [MCH] had enough doctors to do the work themselves. It was time to go even though they wanted me to stay."

 

On March 15, MCH staff wrote a letter of condolence to Carl's family, along with a tribute video. "The Spirit of the Lord continues to work after Dr. Epp's life in the lives during his service," read the letter. "His legacy continues to empower and inspire us to serve the needy people in Hualien, both locally and globally."

Carl was born to David and Justina Epp of Eigenheim, Saskatchewan, Canada, November 30, 1930. He grew up on the family farm, and he first taught in a one-room school in nearby Lac Cheval, before pursuing a career in medicine. While waiting for acceptance into medical school, he attended Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg, where he met Hilda Schroeder. The two were married June 25, 1961.

After returning to Canada from Taiwan in 1991, Carl continued to practice medicine in Winnipeg until his retirement in 2001.

Carl is survived by his second wife, Madeleine Enns; children Maureen Epp (David Neufeld), Kevin Epp (Melanie), David Epp (Anita), and Weldon Epp (Kristi Dyck); grandchildren Christopher (Catherine), Robin, Nicole (Luke), Heather, Bradley, Jessica, Nicholas, Jasmin, Erin, Ian, and Graeme; and great-grandchildren Lotty Lee and Myles. Carl is also survived by sister Beth Moyer (Jim), brother Oscar Epp (Rosalind), brother-in-law Roy Stuart, and sisters-in-law Tokuko Higure-Epp, Helen Epp, and Anne Epp. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Hilda (née Schroeder), four brothers and one sister.

A celebration of life was held on Saturday, March 18, at Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship, Winnipeg. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mennonite Church Canada International Witness.

 

 

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​Travis Duerksen is a writer and multimedia producer for Mennonite Mission Network.

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