Sayings That Shape Us!

Joseph D. Keppler

December 9, 1929 - February 14, 2024

(I shared the following eulogy at my Dad's funeral, February 19, 2024). 

I have so many wonderful memories from growing up with my parents. I say “growing up” because it became clear when I started grade school and heard one of my peers exclaim, “Your parents are so young!” And they were! Mom and Dad eloped on June 10, 1950, and had to go all the way to Corinth, Mississippi to get a justice of the peace who would marry a 16-year-old girl to a 20-year-old sailor, who after four years of active duty, was now in the Naval reserves! That sailor and his gal would become dad and mom, grandpa and grandma, to this great family.

Mike, Grandpa, and Matt
"A quick pic between oil changes!"

I learned so much from dad who had married young, took on a family of four kiddos, and started his own business in those first fourteen years of marriage. Growing up in a family business taught me many lessons for sure! Watching dad and mom in action, as they dealt with the customers who came to Joe’s Auto Repair, was an education within itself!

I would like to share some of the sayings I remember that my dad made famous to me in my growing up years. Some of them, I’m sure, were not original, because a couple of them sound like a “Yogi-ism,” or a country music song! However, I believed that dad owned and embodied them in his life, parenting, and work experiences. These sayings shaped my life. Not only do they say something about how he lived life, but how we should live it, too.

"Mechanic under hood!"

Dad would say...

“I don’t need an alarm clock; my obligations get me up!” (motivation!)

“He’s a workin’ fool! (productivity!)

“He ain’t real!” Also related, “He ain’t right!” or “That ain’t real!” (be authentic!)

“He’s punchy!” (caution about instability!)

“Why, you can drive this car a hundred thousand miles!” (encouragement!)

“If you’re in a big hurry, you should have gotten an earlier start!” (time management!)

“If I told you everything, it would blow your mind!” (confidence!)

“My cup is overflowing and I’m drinking out of the saucer!” (gratitude!)

“That’s not what Keppler’s do!” (expectations!)

“Get the putty knife and window glass.” (forgiveness!)

“Mike, did you hit a skunk tonight? Put the car outside!” (don’t overreact!)

“You know you don’t have to go to Texas.” (But I did, and he trusted me!)

“Ain’t none of us getting out of this alive!” (life is brief!) Truth is… we will be more alive at death than we ever were this side of heaven! (see 2 Corinthians 5:6).

On many occasions over the years, Monique would strongly suggest, “Call your dad! He’ll know!” And then, later, she’d follow-up with these questions, “Did you call him? What did he say?” With these frequent reminders, you can see her confidence in dad, as well!

If you went out to the shop over the years, you may have heard this saying, “Hey dad, (he called his male friends, dad!) “Come into my office!” (The “office” was the three chairs in the corner by the furnace!) Dad was a wise and smart man way beyond the modest years of his formal education! I trusted his judgments implicitly. He was a hero to us and always a valued mentor, advisor, counselor, confidant and of course, a great mechanic! I can say today as an old guy myself, “I don’t know what kind of man I would have turned out to be without dad’s loving, shaping influence in my life!”

My immediate family has a tradition of going to the St. Louis Auto Show each January. We get to see the latest vehicles and spend some special time together at these venues. I have been thinking about mom and dad and that "large show room of cars and trucks of every make and model.

Many of you remember my mother. You knew her to be like the inviting interior of a shiny new car. She was beautiful, comfortable, protective with all the safety features you’d expect of a mother, and in many cases, she was ready to get behind the wheel and take charge! Dad on the other hand, was like the engine, the starter, the sparkplug, and fuel of our family. He was the power train that gave us strength and movement. Both played their role in bringing up this family. They loved well and will be greatly missed!

Some could say that with my parents’ passing, this is the end of a chapter in our family. I prefer to think that this is only the beginning of a new model year. I am optimistic and hopeful about our future! I see great promise in the next generation of grands and great grands. They’ve already made us proud! I’m ready to give them the steering wheel. And I can’t wait to see where they’ll take us!

Thanks, Dad, and Grandpa, for setting all this in motion!

Check out... Grandpa's 90th  Grandma's passing

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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