CINCINNATI — Rhua Kepferle, beloved wife of Roy Clark Kepferle and loving mother of eight, passed away peacefully at home in Cincinnati on Dec. 29, 2011. Mr. and Mrs. Kepferle had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Oct. 27. Rhua, 84, was born to Ralph Carrington Bowles Slavens and Mary Ethel Stefenon in Portland, Ore. She grew up in Molt and graduated from high school in Billings.
Rhua was an accomplished home economist, volunteer, librarian, political activist, teacher, and genealogy enthusiast who raised her family to love learning, travel widely, and seek truth in all their endeavors. She was a devout Catholic and for nearly 30 years a parishioner at St. Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati. A lifelong learner, she took coursework toward a master's degree in theology at Xavier University and the Athenaeum of Cincinnati in the 1970s. During that period she was also an active member of the St. Agnes parish in Bond Hill, where she served as director of religious education and was a key participant in the Christ Renews His Parish program, ecumenical outreach, home prayer circles, and other parish activities.
Rhua was very close to her cousins Susanne Slavens Carman of Waukesha, Wis., Harold Slavens of Billings, and Shelly Slavens Ehni, of Seattle, as well as William (Bill) Slavens (deceased). Following her marriage in Miles City, in 1951, she and her family lived in the Dakotas, Colorado, Tokyo, and Elizabethtown, Ky., finally settling in Cincinnati in 1968. Throughout all her travels, she maintained her close connections with family and friends around the world, and especially in Montana, where her grandparents had homesteaded. She was partial owner of her father's general store and kept some Montana farmland for most of her life as a link to her family roots. She and her family visited Montana whenever the opportunity arose.
An avid 4-H'er, she was selected as one of 31 United States representatives to participate in the International Farm Youth Exchange program. She spent the summer following her 1949 graduation from Montana State University living and working on a family farm in Luxembourg, and remained in warm contact with her IFYE "sister", Marie-Paul Gloden-Meyer. She served as Home Demonstration Agent for the MSU Cooperative Extension Office in Miles City before starting her family. She continued to share her expertise in budgeting, cooking, nutrition and sewing with her children, as well as with others in the various communities in which she lived over the years.
She is survived by her husband, Roy; and her children, Mary Rose Sperlich (Helmut) of Ingolstadt, Germany, Michael Roy Kepferle (Deborah Waltman) of Lexington Park, Md., Gregory Ralph Kepferle (Jean Blomquist) of Morgan Hill, Calif., Mary Elizabeth Kepferle (Thomas Gorguissian) of Alexandria, Va., Christopher Damian Kepferle (Elizabeth Abele) of Bethesda, Md., Theresa Marie Kepferle (Kevin Wagerson) of Davie, Fla.; and son-in-law Sherman Thorpe of Morning View, Ky. Surviving grandchildren are Maxi, Francis, and Sevi Sperlich; Kaci, Megan, and Chase Kepferle; Margaret Gorguissian; and Christian and Karl Wagerson.
She was preceded in death by her sister, Margaret Ann Slavens who died at 16; her son, Matthew Clark Kepferle who died in infancy; her daughter, Anne Marie Thorpe; and grandsons Jason Grant Thorpe and Joseph Patrick Kepferle.
A memorial mass will be celebrated at St. Xavier Church, 607 Sycamore St. in downtown Cincinnati at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2012. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Rhua's memory may be to a charity of choice, or to any of her favorite causes, including: TAP's Community Brotherhood (http://www.thetcb.org/); St. Aloysius Gonzaga School for Aids Orphans in Nairobi, Kenya (http://www.sagnairobi.org/); Catholic Charities (http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org); Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (http://jdrf.org); and Montana State University (http://www.montana.edu).