History & Staff
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service and have the highest integrity.
Kepner Funeral Homes has been serving the Wheeling area for over 175 years, making it the oldest funeral business in the region. Six generations, including five generations of Kepners, have provided dedicated service to our local community.
In 1845, George Mendel established a furniture and funeral business in Wheeling, WV. In 1902, he separated his industries and moved the funeral business to 1147 Main Street in downtown Wheeling, along with hiring Carl J. Kepner as an associate. Five years later, a larger facility was needed, and Mr. Mendel and Mr. Kepner constructed a spacious building at 1212 Chapline Street.
After George Mendel's death, Carl J. Kepner bought the remaining interest in the company. He expanded the business again in 1920 by purchasing the Spiedel Home at 1308 Chapline Street. Wade H. Kepner joined his father in the firm in 1923, changing the name to Carl J. Kepner and Son; in 1925, the business became known as the Kepner Funeral Home, and added locations in South Wheeling and Elm Grove a few years later.
The Woodsdale location was opened in 1955, and John W. Kepner joined his father in the company in 1956. His sons, John D. and James B. Kepner, joined the firm in 1981. In 1995, Kepner acquired the Burke-Bodey Funeral Home in Warwood. In 2011 we made our most recent acquisition. We acquired Raymer Funeral Home in Huntersville, North Carolina in April 2011, making this our sixth location.
Today, the Kepner Funeral Homes continue to provide caring funeral service to the people of the Wheeling area under the direction of Co-Presidents John D. and James B. Kepner, who bought the business from their father in January 2010. Their sons Jonathan and Alex as well as Jim's daughter Ashley, will represent the fifth generation of Kepners in the business.
Our Valued Staff
James B. Kepner, Co-President of Kepner Funeral Homes
James B. Kepner (Jim) was born in Wheeling, WV on September 19, 1957, the son of John W. and Joan Brown Kepner of Wheeling, WV. He is a 1975 graduate from Linsly Military Institute, Wheeling, WV, a 1979 graduate with a BS degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, WV, a 1980 graduate from Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, Pittsburgh, PA and received his WV Funeral Directors and Embalmers license in 1980. He has three children, Ashley, Alexander (wife Paige) and Alicia.
Board member, past Chairman of the Board and current member of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce
Past board member and past President of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Belmont Counties
Board Member of Ohio Valley Medical Center
Past board member of the United Way
Past board member of Altenheim Home for the Aged
Past board member and past regional board member of Wesbanco, Wheeling
Past President, past board member and past member of Fort Henry Club, Wheeling
Member and past President of Wheeling Kiwanis Club
Past member of the Elm Grove Lions Club
Member of Wheeling Elks Lodge BPOE #28, Wheeling, WV
Past member of Wheeling Symposiarchs
Member of Fraternal Order of Police, Wheeling, WV
Board member and member of Wheeling Country Club
Member of Theta Xi National Fraternity
Member and Past Chairman of the Trustees, past Finance Chairman and member of Christ United Methodist Church, Wheeling, WV
Past Secretary/ Treasurer and past Board Member, past member of the Advisory Board, past member of the Captiva Insurance Board and past member of the Resource Board all with
Selected Independent Funeral Homes, a national funeral organization
Past Chairman of the Board and board member of Oglebay Institute, Wheeling, WV
Board member and past president of FAMIC (Funeral and Memorial Information Council)
Past Board member of the Wheeling Hall of Fame
John D. Kepner, Co-President of Kepner Funeral Homes
John D. Kepner was born in Wheeling, WV, on August 20, 1955. He graduated from Triadelphia High School, attended both West Virginia University and West Liberty State College, and graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in 1980. He received his West Virginia Funeral Director's and Embalmer's license, along with his Ohio Funeral Director's License, in 1980. He is the son of John W. and Joan B. Kepner. He and his wife Claudia Wisbon Kepner have two children, Krystal (husband Michael) and Jonathan.
North Carolina Funeral Service License - 2011
Member, Preferred Funeral Directors International (PFDI)
Member, Fort Henry Club
Member, Wheeling Country Club
Member, Christ United Methodist Church
Member, Wheeling Elks BPOE Lodge #28
Member, Wheeling Fraternal Order of Police Associates
Member, Who's Who among rising young Americans,1992
Former State President, West Virginia Funeral Director Association, 2007-2008
Former Board member, National Funeral Directors Association Operations Committee
Former President, West Virginia Funeral Directors Association, Northern District
Former Member, State Board, West Virginia Funeral Directors Association
Former President, Wheeling Rotary Club
Former Board member, Valley Hospice, Inc., Chairman of the Wheeling Advisory Council
Former Vice President, Wheeling Country Club
Former Board of Directors, Elmhurst House of Friendship
Former Board of Directors, Bank One, Wheeling/Steubenville
Former Board member, Wheeling Coterie
John W. Kepner, President Emeritus
John W. Kepner was born in Wheeling on April 25, 1932, son of the late Wade H. and Martha Nay Kepner. He graduated from Linsly Military Institute in 1950, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Business at West Virginia University in 1955, and graduated with highest honors from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in 1956. He became a licensed West Virginia funeral director and embalmer, and joined his father in the funeral business. In 1962, he and Wade H. Kepner entered into a partnership, and in 1976, John W. Kepner became President of Kepner Funeral Homes, Inc. He married Mary Joan Brown on July 24, 1954, and they have five children: John D. Kepner, James B. Kepner, Jennifer Lynn Kepner Mooney, Elizabeth Jane Kepner Maynard, and Julie Ann Kepner (deceased, July 27, 1990). They have 12 grandchildren and 3 great grandsons.
Member, Wheeling Country Club
Member, Christ United Methodist Church
Member, Wheeling Elks Club BPOE #28
Member, Wheeling Lodge #5, A.F. & A.M.
32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason
Trustee of the Linsly School, Wheeling, WV (Emeritus)
Board of Directors of the Ohio Valley Medical Center (Emeritus)
Board member, Wesbanco, Inc.
Board member and former President, Wheeling Rotary Club
Member, West Virginia Funeral Directors Association, Inc.
Member, National Funeral Directors Association
Former Board member and President, National Selected Morticians Association
Former Vice President, Wheeling Automobile Club
Past Board member, Wheeling Chamber of Commerce
Past President, Wheeling Fraternal Order of Police Associates
Ashley A. Kepner, Director of Business Marketing and Community Outreach
Ashley Kepner was born in Wheeling, WV on March 23, 1986 and is the oldest of three of Jim Kepner. She graduated from The Linsly School in 2004 and from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a degree in communications and family science and has recently come on board as the Director of Business Marketing and Community Outreach and assists Cathy Danehart in the Pre-Need Department.
Ashley enjoys traveling, running and being with family and friends.
You can find Ashley in our Chapline Street location and also in our Elm Grove location. Please call her with any questions at 304-232-5110 or e-mail email@example.com
Alexander Wade Kepner, Funeral Director
Alex was born in Wheeling, WV on March 30, 1987. He attended The Linsly School where we graduated in 2005 and went on to Virginia Tech to receive his bachelors degree. Following this, he attended and graduated from The Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.
Alex has been with Kepner Funeral Homes since 2003. He is married to Paige Hungerford Kepner and they have a son, Campbell. He is the 5th generation in the Kepner family to join the firm. Alex enjoys golfing, tennis, basketball and relaxing with friends and family.
Mark Danehart, Funeral Director/Manager
Mark S. Danehart has been an employee of Kepner Funeral Homes since 1991 where he is the Manager and Funeral Director of the Kepner Funeral Home in South Wheeling and Co-director to our Chapline Street (downtown Wheeling) location. Mark was born and raised in Wheeling, graduated from Triadelphia High School, and attended West Liberty State College. He graduated from the Miami-Dade Community College Mortuary Science Program in 1978. He received his Florida funeral director's license in 1979 and his West Virginia funeral director's license in 1986. Mark is married to Cathy Danehart, who is also employed with Kepner Funeral Homes as Director of Advance Funeral Planning.
Bill Burke, Funeral Director/Manager
William T. Burke, Jr. is the Manager of the Kepner Funeral Home Burke Chapel in Warwood. He graduated from Wheeling Central Catholic High School in 1975, attended WV Northern Community College, and graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in 1978. He has been employed with Kepner Funeral Homes since 1977. He is the father of two daughters, Andrea and Julie. He is active with his daughters in softball and basketball.
Kevin Gessler, Funeral Director Apprentice
Kevin Gessler, of Wheeling, was a former Police Officer having served 25 years with the Wheeling West Virginia Police Department. Promoted through the various ranks, he served as the Chief of Police in Wheeling, until he was selected as the Chief of the Sidney, Ohio Police Department where he served until his retirement in 2013. He is a graduate of West Liberty State College, the West Virginia Police Academy, and the FBI National Academy.
Kevin and his wife Mari Gessler have two children, Kevin Jr. and his wife Amy, and Kari. Kevin enjoys golf, baseball and spending time with family. His passion for baseball led him to begin officiating 16 years ago.
Kevin has been with Kepner Funeral Homes since 2013 beginning as a funeral assistant. His calling to service led him to take more active roles and with the encouragement and support of his family and friends along with President Jim Kepner and funeral director Mark Danehart. Kevin is currently serving his Apprenticeship as a Funeral Director.
Melissa Hill, Funeral Director and Embalmer
Melissa Hill was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania where she received her BA in 2001. Following, she received her MA from St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland in 2005. After working for several years, she decided that the funeral industry was her true calling in which she attended and graduated in 2014 from the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinois. She served her apprenticeship in Iowa before joining the Kepner firm in January 2016.
Melissa and her fiancée Joe live in Wheeling along with their dog Charlie.
Cathy Danehart, Director of Pre-Need
Cathy has been with Kepner Funeral Homes since 1991. She is the Director of Advance Funeral planning and a huge asset to our team.
She works with families daily to help them prearrange their funeral by walking them through the prearrangement process step-by-step to ensure all decisions and choices are properly attended to. If you need to reach Cathy in order to schedule a time to meet or with any questions you may have, she can also be found in our Chapline Street location at 304-232-5110.
Leah Buchwach, Insurance Specialist and Pre-Need Assistant
Leah has been employed with Kepner's since 2014. She is from Wheeling, WV and graduated from The Linsly School in 2005 and furthered her education at West Virginia University. She is the youngest of three and enjoys spending time with family, friends and her puppy Mack.
Leah is in charge of our aftercare program, which brings together widows and widowers coping with grief and loss. She hosts monthly meetings along with assisting Cathy Danehart in our Pre-Need department. Leah is located in our Chapline Street location and can be reached at 304-232-5110.
Jennifer Mitchell, Senior Finance Director
Jen has been employed at Kepner Funeral Homes since 2013. Her office is located at our Chapline Street location. Jen has 2 children: Ella and Thomas, and one granddaughter, Addison.
She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from West Liberty University and is a member of the New Day Christian Center in Wellsburg, WV.
Jen enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family and friends.
John Barton, Licensed Mortician
John was born in Slatyfork, WV where he went on to graduate from the Cincinnati School of Mortuary Science in 1986. John joined the Kepner Family in October of 1986 as a licensed mortician and today he is the main embalmer for Kepner Funeral Homes. He is involved of every part of the process from the call of death until the time the family walks into the funeral home.
John enjoys wilderness camping, hunting and fishing with his sons and is one of our most valuable employees.
Karen Hockenberry, Administrative Assistant and Tribute Monument Specialist
Karen has been with Kepner Funeral Homes since 1994. She lives in Warwood, WV with her dog Mufasa. Karen is the proud mother of three children, Heather, Lori and Eddie. She is a graduate of Wheeling High School and attended West Virginia Northern Community College. Karen enjoys spending time with her family, flower gardening and cooking. She also enjoys helping with community functions such as cancer walks, church dinners and fundraisers.
Karen's office is located in our Chapline Street building and she is very involved with everything that takes place at Kepner Funeral Homes. Karen is a very important member of our staff and
goes above and beyond to ensure our families needs and wants are being taken care of.
Norma L. Wilson, Administrative Assistant and Service Counselor for Renpek Pet Service
Norma has been with Kepner Funeral Homes since 1994. She is married to Junior Wilson.
Norma is a graduate of Wheeling Park High School and a graduate of West Virginia Business College with an Associate degree in Accounting and Computer Science.
She enjoys riding and working with her horses along with teaching her grandchildren how to ride. Norma also enjoys running, bike riding, and rollerblading.
You can find Norma in our Chapline Street location majority of the time. Norma is also in charge of Renpek Pet Services. She can be reached at 304-232-8933. If you need anything pertaining to Kepner Funeral Homes, please call her at 304-232-5110.
Aubrey Koscevic, Administrative Manager
Aubrey was born in Washington, PA and grew up in Wellsburg, WV with her family of five, being the middle child. She is an aunt to two amazing children; Karlee and Kamdon, and if they were jewels, she would have the most beautiful gems ever and is very proud to be their Aunt! She is very close with her family and loves spending as much time as she can with them. She enjoys reading, her dogs and food.
Ken Wallace, Funeral Attendant
Ken has been with Kepner Funeral homes since 1991. He was born and raised in Wheeling, WV and graduated from the West Liberty University in West Liberty, WV.
Ken keeps our Elm Grove location in the very best shape at all times. Ken is one of our most valuable employees and we are grateful for his many years of dedication to our firm. You can find Ken in our Elm Grove location at 304-242-2311.
Larry Dean, Funeral Attendant
Larry has been with Kepner Funeral homes since 1977. He is from Wheeling, WV and graduated from Sherrard and went on to Fairmont State for college.
Larry is licensed to do cremations for Kepner's, works funerals and is responsible along with Nick Mills for maintenance needed for all of our locations. Larry is also involved with Renpek Pet Services and is a huge asset to our team.
Linda Kay McGlumphy, Administrative Staff Support
Linda has been an employee for Kepner Funeral Homes since 2009. She resides in St. Clairsville and is married to Joseph McGlumphy. She is a full time Art Teacher at St. Vincent de Paul Parish School. Linda is the Art & Environment Coordinator for St. Vincent de Paul Parish and a St. Vincent de Paul Parishioner. Walking, college football games and the arts are what Linda enjoys.
Linda commonly works at our Chapline Street location. She may be small in stature, but she has a big smile!
Part-time Staff, Part-time Staff members
Here are Kepner's we are proud of our part-time staff members and all the hard work they do for us each week. Below are the members of Kepner's part-time staff:
We appreciate our staff members for always going above and beyond what is necessary!