‘In a world of takers, Ron D’Epifanio was a giver’: Fairfield city councilman honored at funeral

Fairfield City Councilman Ron D’Epifanio’s casket is carried by the Fairfield police and fire departments honor guards during his funeral service on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. He died on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Fairfield City Councilman Ron D’Epifanio’s casket is carried by the Fairfield police and fire departments honor guards during his funeral service on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. He died on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Fairfield City Councilman Ron D’Epifanio is a man impossible to forget as he was “a force of nature,” said his best friend, Mike Fox.

“In a world of takers, Ron D’Epifanio was a giver,” said Fox as he eulogized Fairfield’s former mayor and city council member on Wednesday afternoon at the Winton Road First Church of God.

D’Epifanio, a Columbus native, died on Jan. 21 surrounded by his family at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital after a brief illness. He was 78.

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Hundreds said goodbye at his visitation on Tuesday as he lay in state at the Fairfield Municipal Building and Wednesday at his funeral service. To most of them, he was known as Depper, Coach Dep, mayor or friend.

“Ron was to me, and so many of you gathered here today, a loyal friend,” Fox said Wednesday. “I could always count on him to tell me what I needed to hear, even though at times, it was not necessarily what I wanted to hear.”

Son Craig D’Epifanio said his father “never went into anything halfway. He was going to participate in anything with full-force, all-in and never accept defeat.”

That was his philosophy while coaching youth football, or his daughter Lynne’s softball team with the Therapeutic Recreation league at the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Field. It was also his philosophy in politics, as he was elected to three terms to City Council (1995, 1999 and 2017) and two terms as Fairfield’s mayor (2005 and 2009)

On Monday, the first City Council meeting since his death, black cloth was draped his on chair and in front of his seat on the dais.

“Councilman D’Epifanio had an immeasurable impact on this community that extends well beyond the walls of this council chamber,” said Councilman Dale Paullus during the opening prayer at Monday’s council meeting.

During roll call read by Clerk of Council Alisha Wilson, her voice faltered as she read D’Epifanio’s name. Shortly after, Mayor Steve Miller asked three others to pay tribute to the man who loved the Ohio State Buckeyes nearly as much as his family by making the O-H-I-O gesture behind his vacant seat.

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On Tuesday, hundreds of people lined the halls of the city building to offer their condolences to the D’Epifanio family, including his wife Patty D’Epifanio, daughter Lynne D’Epifanio and sons Craig D’Epifanio and Javier Perez, and grandchildren.

Steve Miller, one of the many people D’Epifanio mentored since moving from Columbus to Fairfield in 1976, said to the dozens of people at his funeral service that “family was Ron’s biggest love.”

Miller said Wednesday he “wouldn’t be here without him,” as it was D’Epifanio who pulled him off his couch and into public office.

D’Epifanio’s indelible impact on the city of Fairfield will be remembered by many, from his actions on Fairfield City Council to those he coached on and off the football field.

“He would always tell us, and his players, ‘As long as I’m getting on you, pushing you, you know I believe in you and care for you. The only time you need to worry is if I stop getting on you and pushing you. That means I’ve given up on you,’” said Craig D’Epifanio. “I can tell you that I do not know of anyone he ever gave up on.”