Town of Farragut officials remembered the late Mary Lou Koepp, the Town first employee and first recorder, as an integral part of the Town’s success.
After battling an undisclosed illness, Koepp died Saturday, July 2. She was 78.
Koepp was hired by the Town in October 1980 and retired July 2004.
“It was hard to see her go,” Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill said. “I don’t know of any [other staff member] who was as close to that in longevity.”
McGill knew Koepp before she was a Town recorder.
“We were actually neighbors,” he said. “We knew the Koepps well.
“She was an outstanding person and an important part of the Town staff,” former Mayor Eddy Ford said. “Her insights, her participation and hard work for the Town were an integral part of its success for many years.
“Mary Lou had a great personality and a great sense of humor. She was a great person to be around and a great asset to our Town.”
“Mary Lou was the fountain of information about the town of Farragut,” Sue Stuhl, Farragut Parks & Leisure director, said. “I learned a lot from her over the years and really enjoyed working with her.
“She knew how to stand her ground and was not afraid to speak her mind when it mattered,” Stuhl said. “Mary Lou truly believed that the town of Farragut was a special place to live and work.”
Ford remembered Koepp’s professionalism and her contributions as Town recorder, and McGill remembered the Town’s early days when Koepp came on board with the Town.
“When we incorporated, we had no employees,” McGill said. “Basically, [Koepp] had to put together the whole office. Sometimes she didn’t even have a typewriter, and computers were not widespread then.
“We had to go through a learning curve on what kind of reports you need. She put that together, thank God,” he said.
“I imagine her, in the early years, sitting in the office by herself with a typewriter,” McGill said. “Things were not very sophisticated in the beginning. Of course, now we have all the amenities we need to run a business.”
McGill also remembered her as “meticulous” in her work.
Ford said Koepp “was exceptional at preparing the reports and handling finances.
“A Town recorder is a very important position,” he said. “She was responsible for tracking financials and making sure the bills were paid and the financial reports were filed correctly with the Town administrator, Town staff and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
“Mary Lou also, as recorder, was responsible for taking minutes and making sure they were properly presented and filed. Her assistance to the Town administrator and staff with the preparation of the Town budget document was exemplary. [The documents] not only met the standards, but she met them in an exemplary fashion,” he said.
Ford remembered one year when Koepp was recognized as most outstanding Municipal Recorder of the Year by Tennessee Municipal Recorders Association.
She also was responsible for preparing all the checks to pay the Town’s bills.
“Over the years, you can imagine the volume of paper checks the Town was paying,” Ford said. “She had every bill presented for payment. She made sure everything was right.”
Koepp worked under Jack Hamlett, the Town’s first administrator, and his successor, Dan Olsen.
“She worked exceptionally well with the Town administrators and staff over the years,” Ford said. “She held the front position of the Town staff and she did it extremely well. She reacted extremely well to members of the Town staff as well as the public.”
After an astounding recovery against all odds with a 6-month long battle with illness, Mary Lou (Rusch) Koepp, of Farragut, Tenn., suddenly passed away on July 2, 2016 at 78 years young. Nothing was more important to Mary Lou than family, and on her last day she was surrounded by almost her entire clan at a family reunion at her brother’s ranch in North Dakota.
Mary Lou was born on Nov. 11, 1937, in Oshkosh, Wis., to Norm and Hallie Rusch and grew up on various farms near Oshkosh, Wis., where she enjoyed riding horses. After graduating from Oshkosh High School she earned a degree in business education from the University of Wisconsin White-water, where she was a member of the Delta Zeta sorority. She maintained close ties with her sorority sisters over the years through “round robin” letters, and later, Facebook and e-mails.
After graduation, Mary Lou married her college sweetheart, Tom Koepp. She began her career teaching high school business classes in Wisconsin and Minnesota. After moving to Kentucky, she worked on a Masters Degree in accounting at the University of Kentucky, while devoting her time to raising her two daughters and managing the home. She then moved to Texas and Florida in support of her husband’s career. In Florida she returned to teaching business classes at the Pensacola Junior College. Then, after moving to Tennessee, she worked as a secretary for the Department of Engineering at The University of Tennessee where her blood turned orange and she became a diehard “Vol” fan. After a couple years at UT, Mary Lou began her hallmark career as the very first employee of the newly founded town of Farragut, as the Town Recorder. There she developed a distinguished reputation in her role, and was well known and highly respected by all. After serving Farragut for over 20 years, her dedication was recognized by the entire town at a large retirement reception given in her honor.
While Mary Lou and her husband had always been travelers, visiting every state in the US, after her retirement, they began to explore the entire globe in earnest. They set sail on many cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Alaska, Mediter-ranean, North Sea, and more, and set foot on every continent, landing in Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Holland, Austria, France, Poland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Japan, Hong Kong, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel, just to name a few.
When not gallivanting around the world, Mary Lou enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren of whom she was very proud, attending soccer games, cheerleading, gymnastics, musical performances and other activities.
Mary Lou was an avid reader and active member of the Knoxville Writer’s Group, local garden club and Farragut Presbyterian Church women’s circle. She was very computer savvy and kept in touch with her many friends and family via Facebook, e-mails, and texts. She and her husband regularly attended local theater and arts productions, and as big football fans, cheered on The University of Tennessee Volunteers in Neyland Stadium and the Green Bay Packers on TV.
Mary Lou is survived by her husband, Tom Koepp; daughters, Tammy (James) O’Donnell and Tracey Bridges; grandchildren, Nathan O’Donnell, Joshua O’Donnell, Jacob O’Donnell, and Alex Bridges; sister, Arlene (Blair) Stanicek; brother, Tom Rusch (Sue Herzer); sister-in-law, Marlene (Lee) Sturdevant; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Mary Lou is preceded in death by her parents, Norm and Hallie Rusch; sisters-in-law Judy Rusch and Cindy Gould; brother-in-law, Keith Gould.
A funeral service was held for Mary Lou Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Oshkosh, Wis., prior to her interment at the Bethesda Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Ring, Wis.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a celebration of her life at a memorial service starting at 4 p.m., Saturday, July 30, at Farragut Presbyterian Church followed by a reception in her honor at the church.