John "Jack" Henry Keppel, Jr., a pastor of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, died May 1, at Good Shepherd Nursing Home, Wheeling. He was 88. Reverend Keppel energized congregations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Scotland, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.
Jack Keppel was born in Bellaire, Ohio, January 2, 1922. He grew up on Wheeling Island, Wheeling, WV, swimming the Ohio River for fun. He attended Madison Elementary School and played football for Wheeling High School, where he graduated in 1939. Inspired by faithful family members, he received his BA in Religious Studies at Bethany College 1939-43. He worked his way through Yale Divinity School, receiving his B.D. (masters) in 1946.
Ordained into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1946, Rev. Keppel was asked by the United Christian Missionary Society to start a mission church in Republic, PA. He met his future wife, Mildred E. Winterhalter, there and later became engaged while she was at Lynchburg College. On July 28, 1947, they married. After their first son Dan was born in 1948, Mildred completed her BA from Lynchburg College.
In 1951, Rev Keppel served the First Church, Havre de Grace, MD. Their second son, Mark was born in April 1951.
From 1955-58, Jack answered the urgent call for ministers from the British Churches of Christ in Falkirk, Scotland. The Keppel family visited many re-building communities throughout Europe and the Holy Lands (Middle East) on their way home.
Rev. Keppel accepted the call of the new congregation in Arlington Heights, Indianapolis, IN in 1958. While in Indianapolis, Jack Keppel expanded his ministry to many disadvantaged people of the city. He was involved in community development, soup kitchens, refugee immigration and housing issues. He was active in civil rights and Christian social action. He championed Ecumenical activities with all religions.
In June 1961, their third son, Kris, was born. From 1967-75, the Keppel’s served Fourth Avenue Christian Church, Columbus, Ohio. Jack became a lifelong Ohio State football fan. He led various clergy and chaplain organizations. In 1975, Rev Keppel ministered to the Fairview Heights, IL, First Christian Church. In 1979, he returned home to serve as pastor of the joint ministry of Island Christian Church, Wheeling and First Christian Church, McMechen.
Beside his dedication to his congregations, Jack was active in the Boys Scouts, Kiwanis, Clergy Councils, hospital pastoral care units, many all-denominational groups and agencies. He helped people in need and demonstrated "love all thy neighbors" to his churches in everything he did. He supported legislation against gambling and for civil rights for all.
In 1993, Rev. Keppel was recognized by Bethany College for 47 years of distinguished service to the Disciples of Christ and was a member of the Bethany College Bronze Bison.
Jack is survived by his sister Millicent Zonker of Bellaire, OH, brother Bob Keppel of Clearwater, FL, three sons- Dan of Montclair, NJ, Mark of Columbus, OH, and Kris of Land O’Lakes, FL, four grand daughters Jennifer, Leah, Meredith and Morgan and one great grandson Benjamin. A Memorial service will be held at First Christian Church, 1343 National Road, Wheeling, on May 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm with Pastor Maggie Sebastian as officiate.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Jack and Mildred Keppel Memorial Fund of the Christian Church Foundation, P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986.
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