“Irish Eyes Are Smiling”
KEWANEE – Karen Sue (Murphy) Hepner, 72, of Kewanee, died peacefully at 12:05 a.m., Friday, April 28, 2023, at her home surrounded by loved ones.
Visitation and Memorial Services will be held on Saturday, May 13, at Rux Funeral Home, in Kewanee. The visitation will be held from 12:00 p.m., until the time of the services at 1:30 p.m. A celebration of Karen’s life will commence immediately following the services at the Flemish American Club, 313 N. Burr Blvd. in Kewanee. Karen’s remains will be held at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in rural Kewanee at a later time. Memorials may be directed to the Henry County Humane Society, Henry County Senior Citizens Center, or to the family.
Karen (Murphy) Hepner was born March 20, 1951, in Kewanee, the daughter of Lawrence E. “Pat” and Leona (Johnson) Murphy. Karen graduated from Galva High School in 1969. She married Michael Stairwalt with whom she had two children Troy and Nikki Stairwalt. She and Michael divorced, and she later married Ronny Hepner on August 19, 1988.
Karen lived life to the fullest and savored every day. She never met a stranger and had an amazing way of making anyone who had the privilege of knowing her feel like her best friend. She worked for several years at Excelled Sheepskin and Leather in Kewanee. In her free time, Karen loved spending time with friends and family and could always be found singing and dancing with those around her. She cherished every holiday, especially St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, and any reason to get together with those she loved. In her later years, she found tremendous joy spending time at the Henry County Senior Citizens Center on Tuesday’s nights and going to the Silver Sneakers yoga classes at the YMCA in Kewanee.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Ronny Hepner, her former husband Michael Stairwalt, and her brother-in-law Richard Rule. Survivors include her son Troy Stairwalt, her daughter Nikki Stairwalt, her adopted daughter Jo Hodgett and husband Don Hodgett, a stepson Chris Ripka, a brother Robert Murphy, two sisters Mary Ann Rule and Helen Engstrom, six grandchildren to include Anthony Frances, Rhonnie Stairwalt, Caden and Addyson Swift, and Piper and Marley Hodgett, as well as several nieces and nephews. She was also blessed with several cousins and friends she considered family.
With smiling eyes and an incredibly warm welcome, Karen (Murphy) Hepner made many lifelong friends and was cherished by her large extended family.
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