Kepler hadn’t been seen or heard from since early on Monday, July 2, starting a search by friends and law enforcement. A national Endangered Person Advisory had been issued for Kepler on Friday.
Kepler co-founded the Cody law firm that’s now Simpson, Kepler and Edwards with former Wyoming Gov. Milward Simpson and his son, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson.
“He (Kepler) was a great lawyer, but more importantly, he was a great husband, a great father and a great citizen to Park County and the state of Wyoming, he really was,” said law partner Bill Simpson, who worked with Kepler at the firm for nearly 30 years.
Kepler became a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II. While going house to house in France, he was wounded by a sniper while trying to protect his platoon, Simpson said. Doctors initially feared Kepler would be left paralyzed, but he recovered and asked to be re-deployed with his unit.
“He insisted on it,” Simpson said.
Kepler indeed served with the Army through the end of the war and remained on active duty for years.
After returning to Wyoming and completing law school, Kepler went on to serve with the Husky Oil Company in the 1950s before partnering up with the Simpsons in 1960. Kepler went beyond practicing law, also helping form the Cody hospital district, supporting the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and Northwest College and essentially running the Paul Stock Foundation to the benefit of many Big Horn Basin youth, Simpson said.
He described Kepler as the “last of the old-time legends in the Park County bar” and someone who was able to maintain civility and friendship with the lawyers he dealt with. Among Kepler’s good friends were former law partner Larry Cozzens of Billings and Ross Copenhaver of Powell, Simpson said.
Kepler and his wife Ursula had been married for 68 years, having one daughter, the late Loretta Kepler.
A funeral service for Charles Kepler has been scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 25, at the Cody United Methodist Church on Beck Avenue.
Rockvam’s Monday news release said an investigation into Kepler’s death was continuing, but said it did not appear there had been any foul play.
Simpson thanked law enforcement for their help in searching for Kepler, particularly singling out the efforts of Cody police officer Chris Wallace.
“It’s very sad news, but Kep was not the kind of person to dwell on sadness,” said Simpson. “He moved forward his whole life, whether it was in the military or personal triumphs or tragedies. He was always looking ahead.”