James “Jim” R. Gephart


James R. Gephart (Jim), 90, passed away on December 16th, 2018, after a brief illness.  Jim was a funeral home and nursing home Owner, having operated the Gephart Funeral Home and Gephart Insurance Agency in Ladoga, IN from 1959-1970.  Jim and his wife also built and operated 5 nursing homes in Ladoga, Brownsburg, Lebanon, Plainfield, and Castleton from 1969-1987.  Jim was a veteran of the US Army, from 1950-1953, during the Korean Conflict, rising to the rank of Master Command Sergeant, US Army 8164th Army Unit.  Jim was a proud veteran that experienced the beauty and honor of going on the Indy Honor flight to Washington, DC in 2016.  In addition to the businesses he created and owned with Irene, Jim’s long list of personal and business accomplishments and recognitions include; awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Robert Orr, elected President, National Association Board of Examiners for Health Care Administrators, appointed to 3 consecutive terms to the Indiana State Health Facility Administrator’s Board, and elected President, Indiana Health Care Association.  Jim held state licenses as a funeral director, insurance agent, and health care administrator.  In addition to his business interest and accomplishments, Jim’s many civic, church, and social memberships included; Calvary United Methodist Church, Brownsburg, Connection Pointe Christian Church, Brownsburg, Masonic Lodge, Ladoga Lodge #187 F. & A.M, Valley Scottish Rite, Indianapolis-Murat Shrine, American Legion- Post #331, Brownsburg, Indianapolis 500 Shrine Club, Demolay, Indianapolis 500 OLDTIMERS Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion Post #10097, Ft. Myers Beach, FL, and the Elks Lodge. Jim was married to his high school sweetheart, Opal Irene, on April 21, 1951.  They were married for 48 years until Irene’s passing on August 27, 1999.  Jim married Mary Catherine Schrader on November 8, 2003.  They were married for 15 years until Jim’s passing.  She survives.  Additional family members preceding Jim in death include his infant son,  his parents,  Ernest Leo, Sr. and Nellie Gephart, his brothers Leo, Jr. and Bill, and sister, Betty, and his nephew, Michael Gephart.  In addition to his wife, Jim is survived by; sister, Judy Kurtz; daughter Pamela Diane Gephart (Bruce) Hepfer; son, Marc Douglas Gephart and Marc’s Life Partner Eric Blanchard; Eric, Gay, Evan and Amaris Houston;  his Grandson, Justin Robert Brown (wife Julie), parents to 2 of Jim’s 5 great-grandchildren, Oliver and Henry Brown; Granddaughter Ashley Newton (husband Tommy), parents to 3 of Jim’s great-grandchildren, Scotty, Seth, and Madison Newton;  nephews Jeff (Patti) Gephart and Jay Scott (Jana) Gephart, and niece Cathy (Marshall) Fields. Jim was a devoted son, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, employer, and friend to the many who knew him.  He was loving and generous in his relationships and he always was sincere and kind to all he encountered.  His business acumen and his leadership in the places where he lived and worked, coupled with his entrepreneurial gifts leave an indelible mark and lasting legacies in the businesses he created and the communities he served. Graveside services for his family and friends will be held at 11:00am on January 12, 2018, at the KOFP Cemetery, located at the southeast corner of US136 and SR39 in Lizton, IN., followed by a luncheon at 1:00pm  to honor his lasting legacy for all that knew him at the Calvary United Methodist Church, located at  575 West Northfield Drive in Brownsburg, IN.  In lieu of flowers, the family asked that we honor Jim’s stated wishes to provide memorial contributions  to:  Transportation Club – Murat Shrine, 510 North New Jersey Street, Indianapolis, IN  46204-1567.

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One thought on “James “Jim” R. Gephart

  • Eric Houston

    A personal Memoir of Jim Gephart – These are the things I want you to know-
    I have known the Gephart family since my family moved to Ladoga in 1963, a couple of weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy. The Gepharts lived a block and a half down the street from my family on Washington Street and my lifelong friendship began with Pam, and Marc, through school, sports, and birthday or pool parties they had at their funeral home.
    After high school, through my relationships with Marc and Pam, I grew closer to the Gephart family. My first year in college was spent at Indiana State and Pam, I and others often watched Andy Griffith re-runs after class each day in my dorm room and we then would eat nearly every meal together in the evening. The next year, when my mom sold our home in Ladoga and moved to Florida, Marc and I went to Florida to go to school, he at USF and I, to St. Pete Junior College. The following year, with my mom in Florida and Marc and I moving back to Indiana to attend Ball State, Jim and Irene offered their home as a place for me to stay in my times I was away from Ball State.
    At Ball State, I was selected as a member of the 1977 class to the College of Architecture and Planning. My career objective now defined, I set out to become an Architect. Jim helped me almost from the start. Jim set up a meeting and took me over to meet Mike Whitecotton to have lunch and talk about Mike’s career as an Architect and a Builder. Returning from Florida, Jim helped me secure a summer job on Dave Lowe’s travelling construction crew, building metal grain bins all across the Midwest, alongside Jim’s lifetime friend, Homer Kessler. With this job, I learned the value of hard manual work, a lesson that I continue to pay forward to this day. During another subsequent summer, when I wasn’t in summer school, Jim gave me a job helping add a wing addition to his nursing home in Lebanon, where I began to absorb all I could from Cletus and his construction crew. I actually lived at the nursing home full-time and I began to understand the design of the facility and why things were organized the way they were. Jim and the administrator let me redesign the nurses stations to make them more efficient in function and space usage.
    Jim and Irene decided to enclose their swimming pool at their home and Jim turned to me to ask me what I thought he should do and to take input on how best to structure, frame and appoint the enclosure. I introduced him to the use of glass block and we used it on the pool enclosure and later on the new home I designed for him and Irene in Brownsburg. I asked him to consider using glu-lam beams in lieu of traditional house trusses to frame the roof to open up the space. He studied the idea and decided to embrace it, giving me a boost of confidence along the way.
    In a few more years, as a young Architect with my own firm in Orlando, Jim and Irene again sought my design talent for their new deck on the canal side of their Ft. Myers home. To this day, one of my two favorite projects. Our work together culminated in the design of their new Brownsburg home on Darby Lane. My favorite to this day. Not because I haven’t done better. Simply because they made me feel like they were as excited to work with me as I was them.
    Along the way, these are the things that Jim taught me……………………………………………..
    Jim taught me the difference between a want and a need. I have used this simple, basic understanding learned from him, to build more than 75 school projects on time and under budget and co-lead many project teams on internationally acclaimed theme park projects, working together to stack one, common sense solution on top of another, and another, to keep the project’s moving forward and the project team focused and driven to succeed.
    He taught me to always be on time. He believed that showing up on time is the simplest form of respect one can show for another.
    I remember talking with Jim upon graduating from Ball State’s College of Architecture about job offers I was receiving at the time. I was lamenting that I spent 7 years in College, graduating with 2 degrees and that “I was only being offered $17,000 to go to work for an Architectural firm”. I looked at Jim and said, “Jim, what do you think?”….. (hoping to get some support for my pronounced indignation that I was worth far more than that). Jim took a moment and said, “Eric, from my viewpoint, that is a hell of a lot more than what you are making now!”……..enough said……………… I accepted the job the following Monday and went to work! I have taught that same lesson and given that same advice many, many times since his simple words of wisdom were given to me.
    Jim taught me that as a business owner or manager of people, that I should never expect or demand that someone perform a job or task that I wasn’t willing to dig in and do myself. He also taught me that if I asked someone to assist with a job that needed to be done and the person responded that “it wasn’t their job to do..”, then I needed to politely advise the person that they didn’t have a job.
    Jim’s home office is a study in organized perfection. I watched him over the years balance his checkbook, pay his bills, organize his file cabinet to perfection. He always seem to know where everything was located.
    After my mom moved to Florida in 1975 and I returned to Indiana from Florida to attend Ball State, I did not have a “home” to go to for breaks, summers, and holidays. Jim and Irene unselfishly made a place for me in their home and at their family dining table. Spending time with the Gephart family at the table was some of the most memorable and fun times of my life. I love breakfast to this day, because of Jim and Irene and their family breakfast time spent together at the table.
    In Ladoga, during our college years, the Gepharts hosted many fun-filled parties and events at their Ladoga home that Jim and Irene had built on the east side of Ladoga. They had a player piano and many of the parties always ended with everyone gathered around the player piano singing along with the tunes from the 1930s-1960s. Hopefully- that piano is playing today- for another group of loving family and friends, so the memories can multiply.
    In the 90’s, I received a simple, fabric, hunter green wrist band with the simple inscription on it, “W.W.J.D.?”, as a means to reference the Christian teachings of the world’s greatest teacher, Jesus Christ. I wore my bracelet with belief and commitment to lead by the example intended. With not a hint of disrespect to Jesus intended, I simply modified the meaning (in my mind) of the initials on the bracelet, to personalize it for me in a way that had “reach out and touch” possibilities, while I continued to learn from the man on earth that had taught me so much…….my bracelet simply became “What Would Jim Do??? (I am really going to miss having him around to ask him…..)
    Finally………..Jim was so organized and meticulous in every aspect of his daily life. He taught me to make the bed every morning and keep my garage clean and in order……….…and just so you know………..…in case you visit…………….I’m still working on this one.
    The greatest gifts that Jim gave me were those things that were part of who he is and helped make him who he became. What he didn’t teach me with verbal direction, I learned from watching and observing the way in which he approached his work and how he conversed with his peers and his employees. Jim showed me how to work hard, to wake up early and embrace every day with a positive attitude and a sincere desire to do my very best work and always strive to create opportunities for others.
    Through watching him interact with people, I learned the art and importance of timing, of being able to show love and emotion through eye contact, a pat on the back, a hearty laugh. He had an uncanny sense of timing, in delivering humorous and funny one-liners that were second to none. His engaging personality often would put people at ease and feel welcome, even when it wasn’t a natural personality trait for some to feel at ease.
    Through his actions, he taught me the importance of helping others, of using my talents to create opportunities for people that I was working with and working for. By demonstrating his unselfishness, he taught me how to give willingly, to always pay it forward, and to always help those in need, those that may not be able to do for themselves, and those that are willing to work hard to make a better life for themselves and others.
    During my years in business, I have stated numerous times in interviews to win an important job or simply in mentoring younger Architects in the office, “We will always make commitments that we intend to keep and we will always keep the commitments we make.” Sounds simple. Sounds pure. This I learned from Jim Gephart. It is simple. It is pure. It is the essence of who Jim was. As simple as it seems, it has withstood the test of time in my life. The life I am living in many ways is a testament to this and the other things that Jim has instilled in me.
    If you have read this far, you now realize the importance of this one simple successful man on another younger man’s life. I love him with all I have. Without Jim in my life, I am not who I am. Jim has framed every positive thought and action I have taken in my life. What he has taught me, I have taught my son and my daughter, and by that transmission, he has framed their lives as well. Without Jim, my life would be much different that it is now.
    The truth is, for all he and his wonderful family have done for me and my family, we are all gathering on January 12th for the same reason. The stories may be similar, or structured differently, or simply blurred by memory and time, but the truth is, Jim helped each of us in some way at some time when each of us and all of us needed a friend, a fan, a father, a grandfather, a dad, a husband, a man. He instinctively came into your life when his leadership, his love, his passion for life, for living and giving to others and for others were needed. You were a lucky one too- he touched you and he moved your life in a positive way.
    Our lives will be different without Jim in our life. The lessons he gave me, those he shared with you- will carry forward as long as we continue to pay it forward, leveraging those lessons he taught us and cherishing the memories he left behind for us. If we can consistently love each other and support one another’s dreams and aspirations to a mere fractional level of what Jim did (in my Life and in your Life)- then we will make a difference in a Life or many lives by giving to one, or more than one, that which he gave to us…….that is exactly what Jim would have wanted, and he will be high in the heavens, rustling the autumn leaves off the trees, exclaiming, “Well done!
    For Mary Catherine, Marc and Pam and your families- thank you for sharing your husband and dad with me. Because of your families Love, you are forever part of my family. You made your home a home for me for many years and many visits- so I hope you will consider our home forever open to you and yours, anytime you want. If and when you need or want me- I will be there, just as Jim was for me and my family.
    Eric Shawn Houston December 2018