Paul D. Empson
Paul D. Empson of Chadron, who served as a District Court judge in northwest Nebraska for nearly 27 years, died at his home early Sunday morning, October 18, 2020, with his wife and daughter nearby. He was 79. A memorial service will be Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 2 p.m. at the Chadron Berean Church. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, October 23, 2020 at Chamberlain Chapel.
Empson was born September 21, 1941 at Concordia, Kansas, to Loran Ralph and Viola May (Boger) Empson. He was an all-around athlete in high school, graduating in 1959. He earned a degree in business from the University of Kansas in 1963.
While they were attending KU, Empson married Martha Ramsey of Wyandotte County, Kansas, on December 9, 1962 at the Danforth Chapel on campus. They were blessed with two children, Mark, who lives in Connecticut, and Laura of Chadron.
A year after receiving his bachelor’s degree, Empson enrolled at the University of Kansas Law School and graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1967.
As Empson was nearing graduation, Laurice Margheim, the Box Butte County attorney, sent a letter to the law school seeking applicants to become the deputy county attorney and a law partner. Empson was chosen to fill the positon.
After Gov. Charles Thone appointed Empson to become a 16th Judicial District judge beginning October 1, 1980, the family moved to Chadron. He filled that position until retiring June 30, 2007.
Shortly after arriving in Chadron, through the encouragement of Frank Van Campen, pastor of the Berean Church, Empson accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, changing his life forever for the better.
Always an avid reader, Empson studied the Bible thoroughly. He was a natural teacher, and, within a few years, he was leading Bible studies and teaching Sunday school classes at his church, which he did for a couple of decades. In addition, he was chairman of the church board many years. He and his wife joined Gideons International in 2011 and became staunch supporters of its efforts.
Empson had a strong personality and did everything with zeal and excellence. He was skilled in discernment and loved to help solve problems, offering guidance and assistance to those in need or with issues, including some who had come before him in court. He loved children, and being “Papa Paul” to friends’ children.
His daughter noted that when he watched sports on television he nearly always rooted for the underdogs unless they were the Kansas Jayhawks. Other special pastimes included both big game and turkey hunting, target shooting, playing tennis and traveling with Martha by motorcycle from coast-to-coast. He loved his family and made sure they took many vacations together.
Besides his wife and two children, he is survived by a sister, Carole Blixt, and her husband, Lennie, of Chapman, Kan.
Pastor Van Campen will return to conduct the memorial service. The nine children of Daryl and Stephanie Regier of Chadron will serve as honorary pallbearers. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery. Chamberlain Chapel is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be made to the Berean Church and Gideons International or donors choice.