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.

Our History

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, represent the fifth generation of Kepners in the business.

Our Valued Staff

James B. Kepner

James B. Kepner, Co-President of Kepner Funeral Homes

James B. Kepner (Jim) was born in Wheeling, WV, the son of John W. and the late Joan Brown Kepner of Wheeling. 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 (soon-to-be husband Ryan), Alexander (wife Paige and grandsons Campbell and Jack) and Alicia (husband Ryan) as well as his wife, Margie Carr.

Past 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
Past 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
Past board Member and past President of Wheeling Kiwanis Club
Past board member of the Elm Grove Lions Club
Past board Member of Wheeling Elks Lodge BPOE #28, Wheeling, WV
Past board member of Wheeling Symposiarchs
Past board Member of Fraternal Order of Police, Wheeling, WV
Past board member of Wheeling Country Club
Member of Theta Xi National Fraternity
Past board member and Past Chairman of the Trustees, past Finance Chairman and member of Christ United Methodist Church, Wheeling, WV
Past Secretary/ Treasurer/ past Board Member, past member of the Advisory Past board 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
Past board member and past president of FAMIC (Funeral and Memorial Information Council)
Past Board member of the Wheeling Hall of Fame

John D.  Kepner

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 the late 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)
Past Member, Fort Henry Club
Past Member, Wheeling Country Club
Past Member, Christ United Methodist Church
Past Member, Wheeling Elks BPOE Lodge #28
Past Member, Wheeling Fraternal Order of Police Associates
Past 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

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). He has 12 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

Past Board Member, Wheeling Country Club
Past Board Member, Christ United Methodist Church
Past Board Member, Wheeling Elks Club BPOE #28
Past Board Member, Wheeling Lodge #5, A.F. & A.M.
Past Board Member 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason
Past Board Trustee of the Linsly School, Wheeling, WV (Emeritus)
Past Board of Directors of the Ohio Valley Medical Center (Emeritus)
Past Board member, Wesbanco, Inc.
Past Board Member and former President, Wheeling Rotary Club
Past Board Member, West Virginia Funeral Directors Association, Inc.
Past Board Member, National Funeral Directors Association
Past 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 Kepner Ferns

Ashley Kepner Ferns, Managing Partner/Senior Finance Manager

Ashley was born in Wheeling, WV 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 is Director of Business Marketing and Community Outreach at Kepner Funeral Homes.

You can find Ashley in our Chapline Street location working on marketing or handling all of our accounts. Please call her with any questions at 304-232-5110 or e-mail [email protected]

Board Member, King's Daughters

Jonathan W. Kepner

Jonathan W. Kepner, Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer & Crematory Operator

Jonathan was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. He is the son of John and Claudia Kepner. He graduated from The Linsly School, West Virginia University and Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. Jonathan represents the fifth generation of funeral service in the Kepner family. In 2018 he married Lindsey Baxter, and they now reside in Huntersville, NC. He enjoys working out, entrepreneurial business adventures, sports, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Alexander Wade Kepner

Alexander Wade Kepner, Owner of Tribute Monument

Alex was born in Wheeling, WV and now lives in Richmond, VA. He attended The Linsly School where he graduated from, 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 his wife Paige, and they have two sons, Campbell and Jack. He is a 5th generation Kepner. Alex enjoys golfing, tennis, basketball and relaxing with friends and family.

Alex is the President of Tribute Monument for Kepner Funeral Homes. He and Karen work together to provide exceptional service for our families. For questions regarding Tribute, please call Karen at 304-232-5110

Bill  Burke

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

Kevin Gessler, Funeral Director/Manager

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, Kari Cooper and her husband Zack and their most precious grandson; Elliot Gessler. Kevin enjoys golf, baseball and spending time with family.

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 attended and graduated from The Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and is a licensed Funeral Director and Manager of the Kepner Funeral Home in Elm Grove.

Hannah Riggle

Hannah Riggle, Licensed Funeral Director

Hannah was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up in West Alexander, PA. She graduated from McGuffey High School in Claysville, PA in 2017, where she was a cheerleader, member of the National Honor Society and President of the FFA. She continued her education at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in Pittsburgh, PA, where she graduated in January of 2019 with her Diploma in Embalming and Funeral Directing. In September 2019, she received her Associate Degree in Specialized Business in Funeral Service Management. She served her apprenticeship at Kepner Funeral Home.

Hannah enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dogs. She also enjoys hunting, fishing and helping her parents on their 160 acre farm in West Alexander.

Melissa Hill

Melissa Hill, Lead Embalmer and Funeral Director

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.

Terry Snider

Terry Snider, Embalmer and Funeral Director

Terry came to Kepner's from San Antonio and recently returned to Cadiz, Ohio to be closer to family. He is a 2007 graduate of the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and earned his undergraduate degree from Ohio University in 2003. He has held licenses in Ohio, Texas and is currently licensed in West Virginia. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He also enjoys various outdoor activities, music, history, and travel.

Cathy  Danehart

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.

Renee George

Renee George, After Care Director and Pre-Need Coordinator

Renee was born in Wheeling, WV. She graduated from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV where she received her BA in 1993. She is married to Edward M George III and they have three children, Mason, Grace and Lily.

Renee 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 while being our marketing expert for the department. Renee is located in our Chapline Street location and can be reached at 304-232-5110 or [email protected]

Karen  Hockenberry

Karen Hockenberry, Administrative Assistant and Tribute Monument Specialist

Karen has been with Kepner Funeral Homes since 1994. She lives in Warwood, WV. 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. 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. Please contact Karen at [email protected] or 304-232-5110.

Aubrey  Koscevic

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.

Tiffany  Krone

Tiffany Krone, Administrative Manager

Tiffany Krone joined the Kepner Funeral Home staff in 2020. She resides in Martins Ferry, OH, where she graduated from high school. She is the proud mother of three children, Dylan, Brittany and Victoria "Tori". Tiffany enjoys reading, jigsaw puzzles and anything outdoors.

You can find Tiffany in our downtown location.

Larry Dean

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 for maintenance needed for all of our locations. Larry is also involved with Renpek Pet Services and is a huge asset to our team.

Part-time Staff

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:

Dave Clutter
Janet Grubler
Mel Joseph
Jeff Klosinski
Bill La Rue
Don Martin
Linda McGlumphy
Sandy Meyer
Bob Morgan
Randy Rejonis
Jim Roberts
Georgia Rudol
Wendi Wetzell Cuc

We appreciate our staff members for always going above and beyond what is necessary!