School 31

Dr. Gary Keplinger

December 18, 1943 ~ August 11, 2021 (age 77)


Dr. Harold “Gary” Keplinger died just before midnight Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 from a breakthrough case of Covid.

Gary was born December 18th, 1943 to Neva Arlene (Gilbert) Keplinger and Guy “Harold” Keplinger in the Creston, Iowa hospital. Gary grew up surrounded with love on the family farm south of Elston with his parents and his older sister Judy Ann (Keplinger) Mercer. Gary attended Zuick Monroe No. 3 country school through 8th grade and Mt Ayr high school, graduating in the 1962 class. He was a strong athlete and participated in many sports carrying his love of sports throughout his life as a coach and by attending as many of his children’s and grandchildren’s events as possible. With encouragement from his family and a firm belief in the importance of education, Gary received his bachelor’s degree in education and mathematics from Northwest Missouri State where he also married his high school sweetheart Becky James. Becky and Gary had two children - Angela (Keplinger) Radloff and Scott Keplinger.

As Gary began his teaching career, he continued his own education; eventually receiving his PhD in Education from Iowa State University in 1976. Gary touched many lives over his multiple decades in education where he held roles ranging from teaching (collegiate, high school, adult education) to administration (superintendent, principal, management) to working with the state department of education and area education administration. Gary’s active mind, caring nature, and positive outlook led him to continue teaching as a mathematics professor for several colleges to the very end. His high energy level also led him to several other activities and accomplishments throughout his life including working in the country music industry, a career in real estate, and political volunteering.

As a staunch Democrat, he worked tirelessly to fight inequality and, more recently, disinformation. Through these other activities, Gary met his current wife and partner, Ardith Anne (Weems) Keplinger. Over their 30+ year marriage, Gary played an instrumental role in the lives of her children Cory Hiatt and Marie Hiatt. After initially living in Iowa, Gary and Ardith spent more than fifteen years in the Nashville area before returning to Mt. Ayr to “retire” and assist the community. Although Gary’s life was unnecessarily cut short, his impact was wide and enduring.

He is survived and loved by his wife Ardith; his ex-wife Becky James; his daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons Angie, Bob, Jay, and Drew Radloff; his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren Scott, Jeane, Anna, Ellen, and Graham Keplinger; his stepson and step grandchildren Cory, Dylan, Devin, and Savannah Hiatt; his stepdaughter and step grandchildren Marie, Josh (and his partner Destiny, son Calvin, and expecting son Jasper), Alex, and Kolby; His sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews Judy, Ernie, Sandy (and her husband Carter), Mark, and Jason Mercer (and Jason’s wife Tega and their son Grant).

Because he was one of several victims recently infected from an unmasked, unvaccinated person, the family will have a private, outdoor burial service but a celebration of life event will be held in December.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. Gary, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Dr. Gary

We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Mount Ayr Location

Join in honoring their life - plant a memorial tree


Celebration of Life to be held at a later date

Armstrong Funeral Home
205 West Monroe St
Mount Ayr, IA 50854

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