Saturday was going to be a difficult one for Becky Kepler. March 7 marked the 45th anniversary of Becky’s marriage to her beloved husband David. Alas, it was also the first wedding anniversary she would commemorate since David passed away following a long battle with cancer.
Becky’s emotions were already running high. Then the tears starting streaming after a florist knocked on Becky’s door with a delivery for her. It was a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
“I thought it was my kids because they did that on Dave’s birthday and I thought, ‘Oh, they’ve done that again,’ and then of course, I’m crying. And then I read the card,” Kepler recalled.
“I was just flabbergasted. It was very nice,” Kepler said.
It is common knowledge amongst Iowa Republicans that if you’re in the Hamilton County area and you need help with anything, Becky Kepler is the person to call. The Webster City woman is well known as one of the hardest working and most loyal conservative activists in the state.
When Rick Perry’s political action committee needed a good place for a town hall meeting in Webster City last Friday, naturally, they called Becky Kepler. When they needed a quiet setting for Perry to call in to Simon Conway’s WHO Radio program prior to the town hall meeting, they called Kepler again. She offered her dining room.
“He needed a quiet place for him to the do the interview with Simon. Well, you can’t get much quieter than my house. And then they were doing the thing at Maid Rite right there in town afterwards, so it worked out perfectly,” Kepler said.
Following Perry’s 10-minute radio interview, he visited with Becky Kepler for almost half an hour. “I was quite honored,” Kepler said. “He was very easy to talk to. We touched on a few things. We talked more about family than politics here at the house.”
Becky talked about her dearly departed husband. She told a hilarious story about David’s notorious frugality. Wanting to treat his new bride like an equal from the very beginning of their marriage, David made Becky pay half of the $5 fee for the marriage license. Rick Perry also relayed stories about his family.
“He has a brand new granddaughter and he was showing me that baby’s picture on his phone,” Kepler said. “He was just grandpa then. He wasn’t a candidate. It was just fun. We talked about his family and his kids and my family. It was just relaxed. It was fun. It was really neat.”
Becky Kepler endeared herself to Iowa Republicans even more with her amazing strength during her husband David’s two-year struggle with cancer. David was also a loyal friend and volunteer for many GOP candidates. To help David in his battle with the deadly disease, Becky organized friends and supporters across the state into a group aptly named Kepler’s Krusaders.
The Krusaders’ combined support and prayers gave the Keplers strength. Thanks to the support and prayers, Becky’s strength and David’s sheer determination, he was able to beat the back the cancer for a while. He surprised doctors and nurses who admitted they never thought he would walk out of the hospital. David surpassed their expectations and lived on for many more months.
Eventually, the cancer would return, even worse than before. Iowa Republicans followed along on the journey with frequent updates on Facebook from Becky. Eventually the cancer became too much and the Lord took David Kepler home last June.
Rick Perry had heard the stories about the Keplers’ many years of service to the Republican Party. Becky told the longtime Texas governor about David’s long, courageous battle with cancer. The governor was clearly moved.
“He looked at all my family pictures and then I got that little display with David’s picture and his flag from the American Legion and a statue of a bald eagle, and he just kind of went over and put his hand on that little wooden triangle frame above the flag. He put his hand on it and kind of bowed his head and just stood there for a minute. Pretty touching. Pretty special,” Kepler said, her voice cracking a bit.
Perry offered kind words about Dave to Becky, honoring his fellow military veteran and thanking both of them for their hard work. It was a very pleasant visit and the two began to strike up a friendship.
Becky Kepler considered the experience a huge honor. A former governor, likely presidential candidate and one of the best known Republicans in the country was in her home, talking about their families and honoring her beloved husband. Up in heaven, Becky believes David was looking down and smiling.
“I’m sure he was. I’m thinking he was pretty happy when he saw that governor just sitting at his kitchen table thinking, ‘That’s pretty cool,’” Becky said.
Following he half-hour visit, it was time for the town hall meeting at the Webster City Maid Rite. Becky, who was recently named the chairperson of the county GOP, introduced Governor Perry to the crowd. The candidate followed the advice Becky Kepler had given him in her living room.
“I told him, when you come Iowa you can’t just waltz into a room, do your little spiel and then get out of there. You have to spend time looking people in the eye and shaking hands and you’ve got to take pictures.”
Rick Perry did exactly that and more. He made sure to honor David Kepler and the wonderful woman he had just met.
“He was very nice to the people at the Maid Rite and the thing that really impresses me, when we got out there and I introduced him, he got up there and said a few kind words about David,” Becky said. “He thanked us for our service and talked about me missing Dave. It was touching.”
Becky Kepler shared the news of Rick Perry’s kindness on Facebook after she returned home last Friday. She called it a distinct honor and special time to have Rick Perry in her home.
Perry was also moved by the visit. He wanted to thank Becky Kepler for her hospitality and for all she and her late husband have done for Iowa Republicans. He also wanted to give Becky something to smile about on her 45th wedding anniversary. He succeeded. The flower delivery was the perfect touch.
“Wasn’t that something? I never dreamed,” Becky said. “So unexpected. So very nice.”
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