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Lonnie's Story

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Funeral service for Lonnie Wayne Kephart , 100, of Canton, OK, will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, November 18, 2017, at the Canton Christian Church in Canton, with Pastors Steve Driskill and Kraig Birchhead officiating.
Interment is at the Canton Cemetery, under the direction of Pierce Funeral Home, Canton.
Lonnie Kephart was born November 4, 1917, four miles west of Canton, to Henry Perry and Dora Elizabeth Karp Kephart. He was the seventh of ten children.
He died Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at the Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, OK, at the age of 100 years and 10 days.
When Lonnie's paternal grandmother in Satana, KS, found that his parents were expecting another child, she wanted to name the new baby if it was a boy.
Because she was elderly and disabled, she required his parents to bring him to Satana for her to name him. Lonnie was 5 months old before his parents were able to travel to Kansas for him to receive his name.
When Lonnie was 5 years old, his oldest brother Jesse died at the age of 19. Because his family was so large, they all had to share beds and Jesse was Lonnie's bunk buddy, as he called him. This was Lonnie's first experience with losing a family member, and he had a very difficult time with the loss of his bunk buddy and sleeping alone.
Lonnie attended schools in the Canton area. He was 11 years old when the depression started and 12 when the Dust Bowl blew into Oklahoma.
In April of 1937, when he was 19 years old, he began working at the United States Gypsum plant in Southard and helped support his parents.
At that time, the men were loading rock by hand in the quarry into carts that were pulled to tracks where a locomotive took them to the crusher. He worked at the plant until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, at the age of 24.
While serving during World War II, he was sent to North Africa where they landed at Algiers. From there they marched southwest to Oran, then east across North Africa, then north to the Mediterranean Sea, and up to Sicily and into north Italy.
While in Rome, members of his group were invited to see and be blessed by the Pope if they were interested. When Lonnie got in line, some of his fellow soldiers asked him why he was in line because he wasn't Catholic. Lonnie told them that he would accept a blessing from anywhere he could get it.
During his tour in northern Italy in 1944, a supply clerk who was delivering supplies to all the camps in the area, asked Lonnie if he had any relatives in the military in that area, because there was another soldier that looked like him in one of the other camps where he made his deliveries.
With some information and detective work from the supply clerk, Lonnie was able to find that his older brother Ralph was located about 300 miles to the west of him. He asked for leave time, rode with the supply clerk to the other unit and was able to surprise and spend a day with Ralph, which was a highlight of his stay in Italy.
Lonnie was discharged from the army on November 9, 1945. Upon returning to the states, the first song he heard was "Oklahoma Hills Where I Was Born."
When home, Lonnie returned to work at USG. He married Lucille Warren on April 5, 1947, in Kingfisher, Ok, and made their home in the Southard community area where they raised their four children.
The couple began renting some farmland and raising a few head of cattle near Southard, while Lonnie worked at the United States Gypsum plant. They purchased their first farm in 1957. With the help of his sons, he continued farming and ranching until his death.
Lonnie retired from United State Gypsum in April of 1980, with 43 years of service. He has seen a lot of changes and major historical events during his lifetime, and has had many stories to tell his children, grandchildren and other family members.
Lonnie celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at the Christian Church in Canton. He had a large group to help him celebrate, and he had a wonderful time visiting with each and every one of them.
Lonnie is survived by his wife Lucille of 70 years, and children: Lanna Chaloupek and husband James, Lanita Davis and husband Dale, Wayne and wife Cheryl, and Neal all from Canton.
Grandchildren are Tim Chaloupek and Tricia Littleton of Canton, Josh Davis of Indianapolis, Indiana, Lani Espy and husband Wayne of Lomega, Ok, Katrina Buzzard and husband Bobby of Canton, Rhonda Steveson and husband Josh of Seattle, WA, and Brooke Kephart of Canton.
Great-grandchildren are Connor Chaloupek, Keaton and Kyla Littleton, Aaron Davis, Madison and Mason Espy, Taylynn and William Buzzard.
Lonnie is preceded in death by a granddaughter, Elizabeth Davis; all of his siblings: Fay Landt, Jesse Brine, Ralph Perry, Mae Kopf, Hazel Martin, Willis Carl, Pearl Fauchier, Fern Linden, Ruth Rauh, half-sister Minnie Hier; and several nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations may be made to the Canton Christian Church and the American Cancer Society.
Condolences may be made online at www.PierceFuneralHomes.com.
Published on November 16, 2017
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