On February 21, 1928 Verna Mae was born in Windsor, Colorado, the firstborn of parents William and Pauline Eckhardt. She was later joined by 2 sisters and a brother. After the family moved to Wheatland, Wyoming to farm, Verna attended a one-room country school through the 4th grade until farming took them back to Colorado for several years. In 1944, after 2 years of having their sugar beet crop destroyed by hail, the family packed their belongings and moved to Portland, Oregon where other relatives lived. Verna’s spiritual journey followed shortly after when she accepted Jesus as her Savior--a journey that would last her lifetime, and on into eternity.
True to their Volga German heritage, Verna’s family attended the 2nd German Congregational Church. Her high school years were spent at Commerce High School (now Cleveland), graduating in January, 1947.
Verna was employed at Meier and Frank’s Tea Room, but later accepted a job offer from the manager of the Shoe Repair Department, Mr. Alex Kuhn, to clerk for him. Since they attended the same church and their families were friends, it wasn’t long before Verna began dating the boss’ son, Alfred. Along with working part-time, she attended Multnomah School of the Bible full time. The romance bloomed into marriage on November 20, 1949, and into their marriage they welcomed three children: Patti, Nancy and David. Al and Verna remained faithful to the Lord and to one another for over 74 years!
Verna’s life was devoted to serving the Lord and her family. Most of her years were spent as a homemaker, lovingly caring for her husband and children. She enjoyed cooking, sewing, and gardening and was a gracious and welcoming hostess to both family and friends. After Al retired, they enjoyed traveling with friends on cruises, as well as to Hawaii and Europe and many trips in their RV.
Verna’s devotion to the Lord was evident in the way their home was opened every Monday to neighborhood children to attend a weekly Bible Club to learn about Jesus. She faithfully prepared snacks and welcomed the children for 26 years! Their basement was full (up to 49!) of children coming to hear Bible stories, sing and memorize Scripture. Many came to faith in Jesus as Savior, some continuing to service in lifelong ministry. Verna’s passion was to see children come to know Jesus—both in her own family and beyond, a passion nurtured by prayer. This is the legacy she leaves.
Verna was an active, long-time member of Central Bible Church, and in recent years at Gateway (Baptist) Church.
Following a stroke on November 18th, Verna received care from Hospice and her family before passing on to her heavenly home on December 1st.
Verna is survived by her devoted husband Al; her children, Patti (Stan) Birman; Nancy (Gordy) Whipps, and Dave (Karen) Kuhn; 9 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren as well as nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Edna and Dorothy, and brother Robert.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to Camp Morrow, 79551 Morrow Rd. Wamic, OR 97063 or online at campmorrow.org/donate.