Our Voice: Duane 'Pep' Pepiot made a great soup and a great life

He may have been known best in recent years for his perfected bean soup recipe, but Duane 'Pep' Pepiot's life was full of accomplishments beyond those in the kitchen.

He died June 18 of cancer at age 82, and now the Tri-Cities is without one of its best community volunteers who kept giving until he simply couldn't give any more.

Pepiot and his wife, Inie, moved to Kennewick in 1955, where he established the physical therapy department at Kennewick General Hospital. He later opened a private practice, and when he retired, he couldn't let his skills fade away, so he volunteered to help athletes at Kennewick High School.

He taught childbirth education classes for the YMCA and anatomy at Columbia Basin College. He also persevered in the campaign to help build the Tri-Cities Cancer Center and the new Kennewick General Hospital, which is under construction at Southridge.

It's a shame he won't be able to see the completed facility, but his efforts will always be remembered. He and Inie were inducted into the KGH Hometown Heroes Society.

In addition to his work in health care, Pepiot was a member of the Kennewick Kiwanis Club, joining in 1962, and he regularly volunteered at the Benton-Frankin Fair and Rodeo and Water Follies.

Pepiot eventually was honored with Kennewick's top honor for community service in 1977 when he was named Kennewick's Man of the Year.

In recent times, however, he became well known for his dry 111/2 bean soup mix that almost always sold out at the annual Holidaze bazaar sponsored by Kennewick First United Methodist Church.

During the past 20 years, he raised more than $70,000 for the church with the soup mix alone.

Last winter, knowing his health was failing, he trained his family to prepare the homemade soup recipe, which had taken him and his wife, Inie, almost a year to perfect.

He may be gone, but the soup mix will live on with his family, and the church will still benefit from his work.

His funeral is scheduled for1 p.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church, 2 S. Dayton St. in Kennewick.

Plans are to have his apron placed on the altar during the funeral and his bean soup served at the reception following the service.

Ludwig van Beethovan reportedly said, "Only the pure in heart can make a good soup."

That must be why Pepiot's was so delicious.