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Kewpie Deaths - 2021
Class of 1963 Memorial - Class of 1967 Memorial - Class of 1970 Memorial - Class of 1986 Memorial
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COLUMBIA MO  65201-3564


Those we love truly never die
Though year by year the sad memorial wreath--
A ring and flowers, types of life and death--
Are laid upon their graves.
Well blessed is she who has a dear one dead
A friend she has whose face will never change,
A dear communion that will not grow strange.
The anchor of a life is death.
There is no death, nor change, nor any ending.
Only a journey, and so many go
That we who stay at length discern the blending
Of the two roads, two breaths, two lives, and so
Come to the high and quiet knowledge that the dead
Are but ourselves, made beautiful instead.
 From, "Readings on the Philosophy of Death"
Author Unknown, from "Poetry For Verse Speaking Choir"
Arranged by, Helen D. Williams



Charla (Emmons) Kleopfer, Class of 1965, passed away Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

Dennis Whitesides, Class of 1974, passed away on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

Ronald Lee Burks, Class of 1953, passed away Friday, January 1, 2021.

Libby Coats Ellis, Class of 1971, passed away Friday, January 1, 2021.



Published on January 06, 2021

On Friday, January 1, 2021, Libby Ellis went home to be with the Lord.

Libby was born on April 3, 1953 in Columbia to Lawrence and Louise (Ferguson) Coats. She graduated from Hickman High School in 1971, worked at the University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics for nearly 30 years. On August 21, 1995 she married David Lee Ellis. They have two daughters, Dava Coats and Melissa Coats, both of Columbia.

Libby enjoyed many aspects of life. She was an avid sports fan, always rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals and Mizzou sports teams. She enjoyed reading, scrapbooking, and talking on the phone. She also enjoyed taking car rides and listening to gospel music. Her greatest joy in life was being Mema to her grandkids.

Libby was preceded in death by her father, Lawrence; mother, Louise; sister, Leta Stemmons; special aunt, Etta Lee Banister; paternal and maternal grandparents. She is survived by her husband, David; sister, Lois (Wilfred) Tolson; daughters: Dava and Melissa (Darrell); grandsons: Treyvon and Jalen Barnes; aunts: Dorothy (Harold) Hickam, Winnie Freelon; uncles: John Richard (Louise) Ferguson and Howard (Cora) Turner; special cousins: Doris Ferguson and Kay Smith; in-laws: Anthony (Glenda) Ellis, Bonita Ellis, Roy Stemmons, Sr.; step-daughters: Davina and Shanda Schroeder; grandchildren: Jacob, DJ, Skylar, Emmett; several nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Family and friends will be received from 10-11 a.m., Saturday, January 9 at Millard Funeral Chapel, 12 E. Ash. Celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. at Millard Funeral Chapel. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Russell Chapel CME Church Building Fund (108 E. Ash, Columbia, MO 65203).

Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory, 12 East Ash Street, Columbia, MO 65203 573-449-4153. Condolences may be left online for the family at

Published by Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home, 1921 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114, 501-758-1170.

Ronald Lee Burks, 85, of North Little Rock went to his heavenly home on January 1, 2021 after a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was born October 17, 1935 in Columbia, Missouri, to the late Lloyd and Elma Burks. He was a U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Korean War and a 32nd Degree Mason. He retired after a successful sales career with Bryan Smokey Hollow Meats. In 1989, he was named nationwide “Salesman of the Year.”

Ronald was a kind, gentle and caring Christian man who loved to travel and spend time with his family and friends. He was always so proud of his family and their accomplishments and never missed an opportunity to tell each how proud he was of them. Even though the effects of Alzheimer’s diminished his mind, the sight or sound of family- especially the children- always brought a gleam to his eyes. As a caring Christian man, he was always far more concerned with the needs of others over his own. Ronald was a giver, not a taker, and always seemed to see the good in other people regardless of their situations or standing.

He was a longtime member of Central Baptist Church in NLR, which held a special place in his heart, and where he had many loving friends, taught Sunday School, and sang in the choir.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Bernice Burks; sister, Debbie Smith of Columbia, MO and a stepdaughter, Gina Larkin of NLR. He is survived by his sons, Ronnie Burks (Brenda) of Maumelle; Randy Burks of Johnstown, CO, and Rick Burks (Yvette) of Denton, NC; stepson, Brian Bentley of NLR; sisters, Sue Farlow of Asheboro, NC and Martha Strawn of Spring, TX; 14 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the doctors- especially Dr. Scott Harrington- nurses and staff at Baptist Springhill Medical Center for their loving care, concern, and lifesaving efforts.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions and concerns, a private family visitation and memorial service will be conducted for family members only. Interment with military honors will be held at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in NLR.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the following which were dear to Ronald’s heart- Central Baptist Church, 5200 Fairway Ave, NLR, AR, 72116 or Special Olympics AR, 2115 Main Street, NLR, AR 72114.

Arrangements by Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home, 1921 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114, 501-758-1170.

Published on January 08, 2021

Dennis Whitesides passed away on January 6, 2021 after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

There will be no service. He will be interred at Memorial Park Cemetery in Columbia. A luncheon in his honor will be held at a later date when we all are vaccinated for COVID-19.

He was born in Columbia on September 29, 1956 to Donald and Laverne Whitesides. His parents preceded him in death. He was a lifelong Columbia resident, graduating from Hickman High School in 1974. Dennis worked in the lumber business for 40 years.

Dennis was a devoted husband to his wife of 30 years, Pranny Cook Whitesides, and she survives. Along with his wife, Dennis is survived by his sister, Debbie Sheldon (Roger); his son, Eric Whitesides; three beloved grandchildren: Grayson, Jackson and Aria; and adoring nieces and nephews.

He loved traveling with his wife, always returning with adventurous tales to tell, whether that was from San Diego, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Chicago, Las Vegas or their countless St. Louis Baseball Cardinal trips.

Dennis was an avid fan, loving: Cardinal Baseball, MU Tigers Football and Basketball, the Kansas City Chiefs and of course Tropical Liqueurs.

Dennis will be missed immensely. The absence of his quiet steadiness, and gentle humor will leave an empty space in his family.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.

Online condolences may be shared at

Published on January 24, 2021

Charla (Emmons) Kleopfer, of Columbia, passed into eternity January 19, 2021. Her earthly passage ended in her home, encircled by her husband Lynn of 39 years and daughters Natalie R. Thomas, Kim P. Wuest, Nichol A. Gottman, their husbands, and newborn granddaughter. Charla’s legacy is known to her family and friends for interests in music, research in genealogy and family history, and unrestrained love and charity for all.

Charla was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma June 5, 1947 to Charles L. Emmons and Leah L. (Van Kirk) Emmons. She spent her early life in Oklahoma and Amarillo, Texas where her parents were teachers. She moved to Columbia in 1957 with her parents. Her father, Charles, was for 25 years an accomplished University of Missouri Professor of Instrumental Music and served as Director of Bands, Conductor of the University Philharmonic Orchestra and Chairman of the Music Department.

To no surprise, Charla followed her father’s lead and herself became an accomplished musician. She enrolled at Mizzou and supplemented her studies as a member of Marching Mizzou, as well as one of the first Golden Girls, which her father Charles founded in 1957. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 1969 with a BA in History. She went on to work for the state historical society. In 1979, Charla received her Masters of Arts in Library Science from the University of Missouri, where she contemporaneously built her career as a librarian in the medical library.

Charla and Lynn Kleopfer met in 1980 at the University of Missouri Health Sciences library, while he was doing his medical residency. They married Dec. 12, 1981 and subsequently spent 39 beautiful years together in Columbia. In addition to their tenured time in Columbia, Charla, Lynn, and their daughters accomplished many family excursions to condos in Florida and Branson, and far off destinations in America and Europe to enjoy Charla’s passion for history and genealogy. Charla truly felt blessed to cherish these adventures away with her family.

Charla was outgoing and gregarious and gave her time and resources generously to many family, friends, and charitable organizations. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Kentucky Historical Society, Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, Ohio Genealogical Society and numerous other state and local societies. She became an expert in her family and friend’s genealogy and created family history books which she shared all across the country. She also enjoyed many hobbies, most of all to scrapbook and quilt with her best friend Marcia Willis.

Charla never met a stranger and was always making new friends. She was an extremely giving person with passion to help others anywhere there was a need. She loved those around her with so much love and intensity, that if you were lucky enough to know her, you absolutely felt her generosity and compassion.

Charla is survived by her husband of 39 years, Lynn Kleopfer; daughters and sons-in-law: Zach and Nichol Gottman, Michael and Kim Wuest and Jacob and Natalie Thomas; two grandchildren and her aunt, Dot Van Kirk of Arizona.

Private services will be held on Sunday, January 24. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Charles Emmons Scholarship or Leah Lou Emmons Orchestra-String Music Scholarship at the University of Missouri. Donations can be made online at or mailed to Mizzou Gift Processing 407 Reynolds Alumni Center, Columbia, MO 65211. Please visit to leave condolences. 

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