Thelma C. Kephart

December 20, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Thelma C. Kephart, who died Dec. 7 at the age of 86. Her obituary was published in the Dec. 10 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Good cook, expert gardener, nondriver, thrifty homemaker and a hardworking lady. That was Thelma C. Kephart.

Peggy Shifler, Thelma's youngest daughter, recalls stories that her mother told her of taking in other people's laundry and picking berries to help feed the family.

It's not that Peggy's older sister, Hope Rohrer, doesn't agree with all of those terms describing their mother, but she pointed out there was another side to Thelma.

"Mom was a character right to the end," Hope said. "I was visiting with her once and I told her I had to go home with my husband. Mom said she would send him a picture."


Thelma, who outlived three husbands, also enjoyed being married, her daughters said.

She met her first husband, Richard H. Rand Sr., during World War II when both were in the military. A medical technician, she met Richard in a hospital where she was taking care of him, Hope said.

The six Rand children in order are Dick, John, Jim, Hope, Bill and Peggy.

"I was the redheaded girl she always said she wanted," Peggy said.

The Rand children grew up in Boonsboro and learned to entertain themselves since there was no money for any other kind of fun.

"Mom was a very hardworking lady, and we all got that work ethic from her," Hope said. Thelma taught all of her children how to cook, even the boys.

With her German background, Thelma specialized in dumpling dishes with sauerkraut. She served sauerkraut with almost every dish she cooked, Hope said.

"She taught us all how to can and freeze and put produce away," Hope said.

As recently as 2003, Thelma still was coming over to Peggy's house in the summer to put up corn.

Very proud of her years of military service, Thelma was honored at her graveside service by representatives of Morris Frock American Legion Post 42, complete with a ceremonial gun salute.

"They presented our brother, John, with the flag -- it was very touching," Peggy said. She remembered how her mother always stood and saluted whenever the American flag was displayed.

John and Jim both served in Vietnam. Dick also was in the military, but not in Vietnam, Peggy said.

Thelma's second husband was Walter Zeigler.

"Walter raised me," Peggy said, noting he died in 1985. "I considered him more my father."

When Thelma and Walter were living on Manse Road, she had a spectacular garden and a greenhouse.

"She really loved her flowers," Hope said.

Cecil Kephart and Thelma met through an advertisement in the local newspaper and were married in 1992 when she was 70 and he was 74.

Thelma also loved elephants -- ceramic ones, metal ones, all kinds of elephants except for the real kind.

"I have more than a thousand of them at my house all packed up in the garage," Peggy said.

There even were large pink elephants in Thelma's front yard, despite the connotations that might conjure up.

Thelma's family is a little somber about Christmas this year since it was one of her favorite holidays.

"She had a special closet for all of her decorations," Hope said, many of which she made.

Thelma made afghans for all of her children. And there always were stacks of presents at the holidays, even for an unexpected guest.

She later began doing crafts for elementary schoolchildren.

"Even Pastor Joe Donivan talked at the service about her crafts and cutting things out for schoolchildren," Peggy said.

The youngest by six years, Peggy had her mother all to herself when she was little.

"We always said she loved me best," Peggy boasted.

Hope countered with her observation that she had more years with their mother.

"So I loved her more and longer," Hope said, smiling across the table at her younger sister.

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