Robert “Bob” Leo Eppes

Robert “Bob” Leo Eppes, 69, of Lenexa, KS passed away Sunday, May 12, 2019 at Advent Health Shawnee Mission. 


Bob was born May 8, 1950 to the late Edward and Clara Eppes in St. Louis, MO.  Bob is preceded in death by his stepfather, Aloys Steinman.  He is survived by his son, Michael Eppes; sister Diana Eppes; his life partner, Sue Ingalls; seven stepbrothers, Glen Steinman; David Steinman; Marvin (Alice) Steinman; Mark Steinman; Brian (Sylvia) Steinman; Rickey (Dawn) Steinman; Greg (Kimberly) Steinman; stepsister, Carol (Billy) Anton;  three grandchildren, Austin Eppes; Samantha Smith; Nathan Ramos; great grandson Gabriel Foulk; four extended family members, Dev Persaud and wife Bethany; Kieran Persaud; Margot Persaud; Katie Wubbenhorst and husband Aaron Henderson. 


Bob graduated from O’Fallon Technical High School in 1968.  After graduation he earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Management from Tarkio College.  Bob worked for the Dept. of Transportation as an automotive fraud investigator, one of three federal agents trained in odometer and title fraud.  He retired in April 2005 as Special Agent in Charge, after 23 years of service. His heartfelt need to fight on behalf of others was deeply rooted in both his professional and personal life. For many years he continued helping consumer advocates and victims, and gave invaluable instruction to consumer advocates and law enforcement across the country.   Bob had a passion for Chinese culture and antiques.  As proud owner of “Silk Road Travelers” in the River Market, Bob was a board member of the Delaware Street Community Assn, where he was well known and loved. 


Visitation and Services

Visitation will be 12 pm to 1 pm Friday, May 17 at the Amos Family Funeral Home.  A Celebration of Bob’s Life will follow the visitation at 1 p.m. at the funeral home. 

Memorial Contributions

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Williams Community School; 5209 Duval Road; Austin, TX 78727 or to Joshua’s Stage; 7405 Teak Cove; Austin, TX 78750. 

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Posted in Kansas City Obituaries, Obituaries | on Tuesday, May. 14th 2019 | 23 Comments »

23 Comments on “Robert “Bob” Leo Eppes”

  1. Jerry Conrad Says:

    I am sorry for your loss. As a fraud investigator and a NOTFEA board member for many years, I valued Bob’s insight, work ethic, laughter and wonderful personality. I will miss him and I know you will grieve as well, but know that he made a difference
    Jerry L. Conrad

  2. Rob Treinen Says:

    What a rare breed Bob was. So kind. He would always ask about my family, and it was not fake. When in town, he loved it if my daughter and wife could join us for dinner, and we did our best to not talk shop. He would bring presents for my daughter. I was happy that she got to know him. The time spent with him was always meaningful. He loved others and was loved. He will be missed.

  3. Ray Johnson Says:

    I am sooo sorry to hear this news! Bob assisted me and testified as an expert witness in several of my consumer cases. He was very helpful, knowledgeable and talented. I very much enjoyed working with him. Bob is irreplaceable and will be missed.

  4. Ken Jost Says:

    As a career DOJ prosecutor working out of Washington, D.C., much of my work life was scattered in cities across the United States where crime was ongoing, leading to investigations and prosecutions that needed attending in places far from my abode. Needless to say, when I was home some of the dinner conversation would involve my tales of travel for DOJ. When my now 40-something son was a teenager, he interjected at one of these dinners, “Dad, your work life is sort of like a buddy movie, isn’t it?” At the time I was spending a lot of time in Texas with Bob Eppes, which necessarily led to many dinner-worthy stories, and I was pleased that I was able to reply to my son, “Yes. Yes it is, at least at its best.”

    One of the great fortunes of my career was teaming up with Bob to investigate and prosecute a never-ending stream of bad guys who rolled back odometers in Texas and neighboring areas. Working with Bob was indeed like scenes depicted in many a buddy movie, and I am forever grateful for having had a buddy like Bob who turned work into play and difficult investigations into successful prosecutions. Bob’s basic decency and imaginative investigative techniques made him a pleasure to spend time with, and never left doubt that we’d get to the bottom of the criminal activity that we knew was afoot. He could befriend a bad guy, go undercover on a whim, or oversee document examinations that established the rollbacks and counted them into the thousands.

    I think that Bob’s love of cars made him view tampering with an odometer as not merely a crime, but a sacrilege. His garage in Kansas City was his shrine to things automotive. And his Silk Road adventure showed a non-car passion that took me by surprise, but showed Bob’s appreciation for objects old and beautiful. While we went our separate ways in retirement, I am forever grateful for Bob’s friendship and passion, and I already miss knowing that he is in the world making it a better place.

  5. Rodley Henry Says:

    I had the pleasure to work with Bob on several cases in Louisiana. Bob was a pro. He and his wife at that time came to spend a weekend and also go to CAR SHOW in MS. Bob was as great a friend that a man could have. Bob you will be missed. RH

  6. Leo H. Grothaus, Jr. Says:

    Mike and Family Members,
    I met Bob many years ago when he first became a Special Agent with NHTSA. I worked for the Missouri Department of Revenue, Criminal Investigation Bureau. We worked together on hundreds of cases for over 20 years and I never met anyone as professional at his job or as kind as Bob Eppes. He was my close friend and confidant. I will not be able to attend the visitation or life celebration due to a prior commitment that I am unable to change. Know that Bob and your family will be in my prayers. Bob will be greatly missed. God Bless your all.

  7. Sandy Moore Says:

    I happened to look at FB this evening while I was at choir practice & gasped when I saw this notice. He & my late husband, Wilson Moore, were great friends & we always enjoyed getting together with him. He & I went to dinner after Wilson had passed & spent a couple hours howling with laughter over the Wilson stories!

    What an incredible man who will be missed by so many.

  8. Douglas Stearn Says:

    I worked with Bob for many years as a DOJ prosecutor, starting from when I was a green “baby” prosecutor. Bob initially called me the “killer kid” after a marathon session of negotiations with defense attorneys on my first case. We went on to work together for more than a decade. Together we did numerous cases in Dallas, Houston, Indiana, Kansas City, and elsewhere. Bob also worked with me through three criminal trials and one that pled on the day of trial. Over the years we spent a tremendous amount of time together.

    Bob was an investigator’s investigator. He set the standard. He covered things from every angle and was always picking up evidence — from criminals, from workers at businesses we were investigating, from third parties, from local cops, from everyone. He also was great at understanding and getting evidence on the technical issues related to the banking side of business. He made my job easy in that the facts were crystal clear by the time Bob was done. Most importantly, he always thought about victims and remembered that we were working on the public’s behalf.

    On top of being such an excellent agent, Bob was a great friend. He could be funny and could be serious. He loved his family and his colleagues. He was the best teammate I could hope for and will always miss him.

  9. Jennifer Stanger Says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Bob at Park City, UT in 2016 when he presented at a NOTFEA conference. He will be missed by all of his friends and colleagues in NOTFEA.
    NOTFEA wishes to express their sincere condolences to his family and friends. We were honored to be able to contribute to both charities in his memory. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  10. Wendell Espeland Says:

    Mr. Bob Eppes was a gentle giant of a man who was a true diplomat in Federal Law Enforcement! He was dependable, hard working, smart and loved to share a clean joke from time to time. He was the kind of man that mom and dad would be very proud of! He was a reliable friend who you could always count on. When I was concerned about transferring to the NHTSA Odometer Fraud Investigations,(OFI) Bob was there to ensure me that the organization, and the many state and local men and women who worked together to fight odometer fraud, were truly awesome and dedicated professionals! He was spot on and my decision to transfer to OFI was one of the best that I ever made. Thank you Bob! I will also never forget Bob calling me when I was at the Menorah hospital when my dear wife was having surgery for breast cancer. They were putting a port in her artery to administer chemo and I was very concerned. Bob called to see how things were going and his kind, gentle, and caring demeanor really calmed me down while she was going through her delicate procedure. I never heard Bob talk bad about anyone and when he did talk it was positive. You will also never find a person who knew more about odometer fraud and related statues, a consummate professional and a kind and loving friend who will be missed by many! I am also glad to share that Bob and I spoke of Jesus Christ and he knew Him as his Savior! RIP Peacekeeper! May God keep you in His care, see you in the morning light, that light in heaven! With Brotherly Love! Wendell

  11. Bernard Brown Says:

    I met Bob in late 1983 when he took the place in Kansas City of the previous Midwest-region odometer fraud investigator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When I heard there was a new investigator, at first I thought the change was bad news, because the previous guy was a solid pro. Then I met Bob. My feelings quickly changed. I didn’t know it was the beginning of over 35 years of a professional, and then personal, friendship, working the same side of the street fighting auto fraud (my work was as a consumer protection attorney handling cases for consumers against car dealers, auctions, and other industry players that had cheated people).

    To appreciate the significance of Bob’s good work, some background is essential. The public never knew, as only industry insiders and some scattered law enforcement people knew, that odometer fraud was truly rampant through the 1980’s and well into the 1990’s. “Rampant” is not hyperbole here. To give just one example of evidence about the scope of the problem: Michael Richardson, then the president of the second largest national chain of wholesale car auctions, stated to the whole audience, at a law enforcement conference in 1994 in Nashville, Tennessee (that I and of course Bob and Ken Jost and many others attended), “We now know that through the late 1980’s 50% to 70% of the cars sold through our auctions had rolled-back odometers.” Even with that sweeping admission, it was actually worse than that, and continued far longer than the late 1980’s. Those rolled-back cars supplied a large percentage of the used cars sold by dealers across the country, and pretty much everyone reading this either owned a rolled-back car at some point, or is closely related to or friends with a lot of people who did (but never knew they had rollbacks). But there was almost no law enforcement against this anywhere across the country. That was the unbelievable industry-wide situation Bob was dropped into in late 1983.

    Bob worked in the lead or in support of a great many odometer fraud investigations, involving many thousands of cars. He was an expert investigator, as I had the opportunity to see first-hand over the years. He also was a leader among investigators, other law enforcement personnel and odometer-related enforcement organizations across the country. A few key prosecuting attorneys, such as Ken Jost with the Department of Justice, worked with him in pushing some very effective cases against major rollback businesses. By 2000 or so odometer fraud had been reduced to far smaller proportions across the country. Several factors produced that change, but the existence of at least a credible threat of hard-hitting criminal law enforcement, of the kind performed by Bob working with people like Ken Jost, was one key. It was an ocean of fraud that Bob and his colleagues fought against, and Bob was a major player in pushing back against it. Almost no ordinary citizens across the country realize that our society has been helped by Bob and people like him; now is the time to give that credit.

    Then after leaving NHTSA Bob continued with extensive work in the auto fraud area, expanding his work to cover industry problems like the sale of rebuilt wrecked cars without disclosure. As Carolyn Carter, the Deputy Director of the National Consumer Law Center in Boston, said recently to a national group of law enforcement personnel, “Bob was a nationally-recognized expert on auto fraud matters, teaching and directly assisting consumer advocate attorneys across the country for many years. His generous work has helped both countless consumer victims of auto fraud, and honest industry players who have had to compete against dishonest operators. He will be greatly missed.”

    There has been quite an outpouring of shock and grief from consumer advocates across the country who knew Bob. Strong respect for his professional work is a given among all the advocates. But on the personal side, one of our advocates may have said it best: “Bob was the kind of person one would have to put a lot of effort into not liking.”

    I knew Bob well. I don’t believe in painting unrealistic rosy pictures of people after they die – better to just stay quiet rather than do that. But here’s what I say about Bob: He was a really solid guy, a decent guy, an honest guy, a warm guy. All those years of his work, he played things straight, and accomplished the things he did by doing an excellent job. He had an excellent personal touch with people, and it came from the heart. I’m really fortunate to have had Bob for a friend. I tip my hat to Bob. To Mike, Diana, Sue, and all his family and friends, I’m so sorry for your loss, he leaves a vast space behind. May his heart, his laugh, and his example live on strongly in you.

  12. Thomas Domonoske Says:

    I was very saddened to find that Bob is no longer with us. I met him at a consumer law conference around the time he retired from the Department of Transportation. In the past fourteen years his dedication to helping people has always inspired me.

    He has been the go-to guy for understanding odometer and title fraud and for figuring out how to prove it in court. Like his vast depth of knowledge, his willingness to spend the time to explain both the big picture and the tiny details seemed limitless. Whether speaking from a podium or in a personal conversation, his integrity and kindness were always immediately apparent.

    For the community of advocates nationally who work on auto fraud cases, he was a treasure and his passing leaves a hole that cannot be filled. On the part of his journey that he shared with us he was a hero who will always be remembered.

  13. Taras Rudnitsky Says:

    I first met Bob during one of the many conferences he attended where he helped educate and train consumer protection attorneys from around the country about auto fraud issues, and especially title and odometer issues. There is no question that his expertise in that area was simply outstanding. But what stands out to me about Bob is the way he cared: he cared about protecting consumers from unscrupulous tactics, he cared about helping consumer protection protect the most vulnerable in our society, and he cared deeply about the pursuit of justice. He selflessly donated significant time for all of this. His insights, his dedication, and his presence will be sorely missed, and never forgotten. To his family, please accept my sincere condolences on his untimely passing. Rest in peace, Bob.

  14. Daniel Deneen Says:

    Unlike Bernard, I didn’t know Bob well. I met him at a couple of NACA Conference and enjoyed our communications. When Bob expressed his opinion on a subject, at the conferences or over a list-serve, his opinions were given great weight. He was very well respected by the top autofraud attorneys in the country.

    Dan Deneen

  15. Kris Whiteaker Says:

    I will miss Bob so much. He made several trips to West Virginia to inspect vehicles in my cases. Bob was always so patient and willing to explain things to me and my clients. He was gracious and always expressed how much he enjoyed seeing this part of the country. I remember how he liked seeing deer along the road as we drove to the inspection shop and how he noticed that so many people drove classic cars here. His insight and expertise were unparalleled; he never failed to respond to my questions via emails or calls. I am so sorry to lose him, and my heart goes out to his family.

  16. Dana Karni Says:

    My heart is heavy learning that Bob has passed away. Bob was a giant in every sense: tremendous knowledge in all things auto fraud related; keen wisdom in reading people – most especially liars and cheats; boundless generosity in his mentoring; and limitless emotions when he spoke about family values and his family in particular. Despite his very tall stature, Bob always spoke in a soft, and very persuasive tone.
    We last spoke just a few weeks ago about my latest odometer fraud case. Bob was always a patient listener and a winning litigation expert for consumers who were screwed by their car dealers. Bob couldn’t stay to hear my closing argument in a federal trial last year where he was my expert, but he was supportive 100% even from afar. Bob was the best expert I could have asked for. He will certainly be missed. Rest in peace, Bob.
    To Bob’s family: may Bob’s memory always be a blessing to you all.

  17. Mike Parrish Says:

    Bob was a good and patient man. He was extremely knowledgeable and always went above and beyond for our firm. Soft spoken and gentle, he carried himself with grace and civility. We will miss him.

  18. John Ukegbu Says:

    Bob Rest In Peace, you are a legend amongst consumer advocates never knew you personally did see you at NCLC and NACA conferences and your reputation as a gentleman and as an advocate for consumers always preceded you. To your family, I ask that the Good Lord to give them the strength to celebrate your life and the fine work you did on behalf of the American consumer. Thank you Bob for your advocacy and dedication to the cause of justice.

  19. Holly Merz Says:

    I knew and considered Bob a dear friend for over 30 years. I first met Bob at the Midwest Odometer and Title Fraud Enforcement Association Conference in the late 1980’s. I was a newly hired investigator for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office assigned to do auto and odometer fraud. Bob was instrumental in my training and success. He had already established a community of investigators and other experts in the auto fraud area, and he was willing to share his knowledge, expertise and contacts. He had an uncanny ability to know instinctively when I needed a call from him for help or support (I will greatly miss that). He loved the Midwest Odometer and Title Fraud Enforcement Association and that association was strong and vital because of his dedication. When Bob retired from NHTSA, we remained long-time friends. I often visited Bob in Kansas City at his store, had breakfast with him at the Majestic, and attended a couple wine walks. In 1989 when our daughter was born, she and Bob became immediate friends. Fast forward to 2018, and my now 29 year daughter lives in Kansas City a short drive from Bob’s former business. She called me one weekday (while I was at work) and told me that her car wouldn’t start. I said, no worries her dad and I would be down (a three hour drive). I called Bob and ask him for the name of a reputable repair facility in Kansas City. Bob said that Mr. Diklich was coming to town for lunch and they would look at her car. I said, no, I don’t want to bother you, I just need the name of a reputable repair facility and her dad and I are on our way to Kansas City.
    If you know anything about cars, you know that the Bob and Dick team are the best in the country. About 45 minutes later, I get a phone call from my daughter saying that Bob had been there and her car was fixed. I returned to work, and all was right in the world. Bob and my son also had a special bond, you see my son is 6’8″ tall, and the running joke every time we visited Bob was to see who was taller, Bob or my son. It was during our recent and (last visit) with Bob that our son was finally able to say he was taller than Bob, not by much but enough to make them both laugh and have a good conversation. On a professional note, Bob was the absolute best. I will treasure his stories, his honesty, his guidance, his friendship, and his spirit. I attended Bob’s celebration of life, and took so much away from the comments made. But one comment that stuck was from a young girl and the lesson Bob instilled in her, “to do just one good deed each day for the next year…365 good deeds”. In memory and to honor Bob, my children, have each started a journal keeping track of their daily good deeds. NOTFEA will be honoring Bob at our annual conference on June 2, 2019, which happens to be in St. Charles, Missouri.
    The NOTFEA annual resource manual that Bob was so instrumental in developing will be dedicated this year to Bob. My grief remains unbearable. But I am a better person because Bob Eppes was in my life.

  20. Kaufman Family Says:

    Reading these posts are so consistent with the Bob Eppes I knew. They are all just a small tribute to what a fine gentleman he was. Bob and I were fast friends, but, I can see, I have not cornered the market on that part of his character. He loved my wife Yennie, my son Noah and my daughter Janelle, who, as fate would have it, is a “little person.” The two of them together, Bob at 6’7″ish and Janelle at just over 3 feet tall were quite a sight to see.

    I’d been thinking of selling my car recently. Janelle told me not to, as it will always remind her of Bob, who helped pick it out for us. I intend to honor her thought on that.

    The world simply does not have enough Bobs in it and well, know, Heaven, has one more very good person on its team. I’m sorry I did not get to truly say goodbye to this Gentle Giant of a man, who often gave first and put so many others before himself. The world is in fact a better place for Bob Eppes having been in it.

    RIP my friend.

  21. John Van Alst Says:

    I first got to work with Bob when he presented at the NCLC Consumer Rights Conference. He first presented at the Conference in 2001 and continued to do so for many years. Bob willingness to teach and directly assist consumer advocate attorneys across the country made such a difference for our community and for the many consumers who were helped by his work. He did all of this with such kindness and generosity. He will be missed.

  22. Karen Smith Says:

    I only met Bob a couple times, but was warmed by his presence and thankful that my dearest friend, Sue Ingalls, found him as her partner. My heart aches for Sue and others who knew Bob better than I did. I regret we didn’t have more time to share. Condolences to Sue and to Bob’s family.

  23. Rosemary Shahan Says:

    It was such a huge pleasure to work with Bob. He was incredibly generous with his wisdom, and willing to share his exceptional knowledge about auto scams, to help others. He will be sorely missed among a whole community of pro-consumer advocates. I will always remember Bob fondly.

    My sincere condolences to Sue and his entire family.

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