Theona ‘Toni’ Kephart, 96, of Dowagiac

Published 2:09pm Friday, June 21, 2013

Theona (Wells) Kephart, 96

Born: Jan. 18, 1917

Died: June 18, 2013

Theona was born on Jan. 18, 1917, in Pokagon Township to Rolfe and Elsie (Miller) Wells. Theona, or “Toni,” graduated from Niles High School and Western Michigan University.

After graduating from Western she taught in the Lansing Public School System. She returned to Cass County and taught in several county rural schools.

She joined the Dowagiac school system in 1947.

She taught third grade at Justus Gage along with her sister, Josephine Miller.

Toni retired in 1978.

She married Donald B. Kephart on July 17, 1941, in a double wedding ceremony with her sister, Charlotte Dodd.

To this union, a son, Byron W. Kephart, was born.

She was preceded in death by Don in 1974.

She married Robert Goodsell in 1978. He preceded her in death in 2002. Preceding her in death are two brothers and two sisters.

She is survived by: a son, Byron Kephart of Dowagiac; step-children, Ben (Harriet) Goodsell of Griffin, Ga., and Becky Goodsell of Healdsburg, Calif.; Grandchildren, Betsy Kephart (Steve Wright) of Cassopolis, Byde Kephart of Grand Rapids, Charlie (Andrea) Goodsell of Griffin, Ga., Sue Goodsell of Savannah, Ga., Mike (Colleen) Clements of Santa Rosa, Calif., Ben (Jamie) Clements of San Francisco and a brother, Rolfe Wells Jr. of Dowagiac.

Toni enjoyed reading and gardening. Her garden and flowers were always a great source of pride. She spent many hours working in that garden with her college friend, Dorothy Rogers. Toni also enjoyed traveling. She spent many winters in Arizona and Texas.

She also enjoyed reminiscing about her former students and many adventures as a school teacher.

Toni was a member of the Dowagiac Business and Professional Women, Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel and lifetime member of the Michigan Education Association.

She also attended the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Berrien County.

The family wishes to thank the entire staff at Forest Glen Assisted Living Facility for their wonderful care of Toni.

A memorial visitation will be held Monday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Yazel-Clark Chapel, 405 Center St., Dowagiac. There will be a private family inurnment held at a later date. Memorials may be directed to Cass District Library as Toni was a great advocate for education and reading.

Please sign the guestbook and leave a message or memory of Toni at


By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Editor's Picks