John was born into the fire tradition. Since 1860 every man in the Keppler family has joined the profession. With both grandfathers founding members of the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department and his father, John Sr., often working at the station, John grew up in the fire house. He officially joined the department in 1965. He was also a member of the Newark, New Jersey, Auxiliary Fire Department and helped to quell the Newark Riots in 1967. Volunteering on the Westfield Rescue Squad as well, John earned his New Jersey Paramedic certification in 1987 and went to work for St. Barnabas Medical Center.
After moving to Pennsylvania in 1989, John joined the Lehigh Township Volunteer Fire Department. While at Lehigh Township, John enjoyed training and sharing his knowledge and experience with the other members. His proudest moments came when his sons, John III and Andrew, joined him on the job.
When he retired in 1993, John moved to Flagler County, Florida, and quickly made his way to the local fire house. He joined the St John’s Park Volunteer Fire Department and earned the rank of captain while there. He responded to his last call on March 21, 2002.
John enjoyed fishing and gardening. He was an avid reader and an excellent cook. He coached his sons’ ice hockey teams and formed a garage band with his boys and his brother-in-law, putting on impromptu shows for family and friends.
John is lovingly remembered by his sons; his wife, Kathleen Morey; and his daughter, Monica. His children consider themselves lucky to have been raised by a man who genuinely cared about people and went out of his way to help whether he was on duty or not. It was commonplace for people to stop him on the street to thank him. They keep his memory alive for his five grandchildren who, sadly, never got to meet him.