Helen Barbour Kephart, age 89, of Stover, passed away just before midnight on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at her daughter’s home, with her family by her side.
It is said that dynamite comes in small packages – if you ever met Helen Barbour Kephart, you just met a woman who exemplifies what that means.
Helen was born April 28, 1931, in Independence, Missouri, the second of four daughters born to Parry and Mary Edwards Jackson. From the beginning, she was full of spunk and often the instigator of many of her and her sister’s misadventures. She often told of daily spankings, most of which she will admit were well deserved.
The Jackson family moved from Independence to Holden, Missouri, where Helen graduated from high school and met her future husband Claude Barbour, who was two years older. It was during her senior year that Helen and Claude decided it was time to get married, so the young couple jumped in the car and headed to Warsaw, Missouri.
They married on April 11, 1948, and it must have been a cool morning because the minister had them stand by the wood stove during the ceremony, which heated things up for the young couple very quickly and caused Claude to shuck out of his suit coat immediately after the I do’s.
Helen finished high school and the young couple moved to Kansas City to begin their life together. A little over a year later they welcomed a son, and a year after that a daughter to the family. Two years later another daughter joined the family, to be followed a year later by their third daughter and the family of six was complete.
Claude and Helen resided in the Kansas City area until 1963, when they decided it was time to get their family out of the city. They found property south of Stover, Missouri and the adventure of getting the house habitable soon began. Weekend treks from the city for the next year found the entire family working on making the abandoned house into a home.
Helen was an accomplished seamstress, sewing, literally overnight, dresses for her girls to wear to school dances and other events. Gifts for her children’s teachers were hand-crocheted doilies; which were given each year at Christmas.
Helen was a people person and she enjoyed her time working at Primo Pants Factory in Versailles and G2M Supermarket in Stover, where she loved meeting and visiting with her customers. She also loved being on the farm, where she was very content to spend an afternoon on her riding mower.
Throughout her adult life, she had a great passion for music as she sang and played a bass guitar. She was a member of several music groups, including the Melody Makers and the Over-the-Hill Gang from Versailles, which played at the Nutrition Center in Versailles.
For more than 54 years, Helen and Claude loved and lived life to the fullest; they were each other’s best friends and built a life centered on family.
For several years after Claude’s death on October 27, 2002, Helen continued to live on her own in Stover, continuing the many family traditions that she and Claude established through the years. She also became a member of the Stover First Baptist Church, where she enjoyed the fellowship on Sunday mornings.
On March 25, 2012, Helen married Jean Kephart and for the next several years they split their time between Helen’s home in Stover and Jean’s farm in Holden, enjoying the time they spent together and with Helen’s family.
For the past few years, with Helen’s health beginning to fail, the decision was made for Helen to move in with her daughter Pam in Versailles.
Helen never lost her ability to enjoy life and find joy in the little things, like a spur of the moment drive in the country with her daughter or seeing the Christmas lights in the city park with her daughter and son-in-law. Her greatest enjoyment came from the time she could spend with her family.
Her legacy will continue with her children and their spouses; Russell and Sharon Barbour of Fortuna; Pamela Coontz of Versailles; Marsha and Joseph Rodriguez of Raytown; and Patricia and Armin Meyer of Cole Camp; her 16 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
She is also survived by her husband, Jean Kephart of Holden; her sisters, Elaine Drury of Kansas City and Shari Edwards of Stover; her step-sister, Ina Urness of Ivy Bend; along with many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
In addition to her beloved husband Claude, Helen was preceded in death by her parents; a baby sister, Lucille Jackson; and a son-in-law, Jack Coontz.
The family received friends from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, February 8, at the Scrivner-Morrow Funeral Home in Stover.
Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, February 9, at the Scrivner-Morrow Funeral Home in Stover with Pastor Chris Roe officiating.
Interment immediately followed the service in the Stover Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions were suggested to the Benton County Hospice or the Stover First Baptist Church.
Arrangement were under the direction of the Scrivner-Morrow Funeral Home in Stover.