Obituary: Joyce Gilson Kephart Sept. 1, 1932 – Sept. 16, 2021

JOYCE GILSON KEPHART Sept. 1, 1932 – Sept. 16, 2021

Joyce Kephart, a longtime resident of Los Alamos, passed away peacefully in her home with her family by her side. Her compassion and caring touched many lives and she will be fondly remembered.

Joyce was born in Mhow, India to Captain S.C. Gilson and his wife Elsie. In 1935 the family returned to native England. Joyce grew up and spent the war years in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire while her father served with distinction in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy with the storied Beds and Herts Regiment.

Joyce trained as a nurse midwife in London, riding her bicycle to deliver babies in people’s homes in the East End (just as in the popular BBC Series “Call the Midwife”).

In 1957 she left England and travelled to the United States, working at the New Jersey State Psychiatric Hospital where she met her lifelong friend Rita Peoppel. Adventure beckoned. In 1958 Rita and Joyce purchased an old car and set out to explore America. They landed in Los Alamos, New Mexico where both found work at the Los Alamos Medical Center.

Joyce met her husband of 53 years, John Kephart, a physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Following a break from nursing to raise children, she returned to work as an obstetrical nurse, first at the Los Alamos Medical Center and then at Presbyterian Hospital in Española. She was a dedicated and respected obstetrical nurse serving for many years as the Head Nurse of Obstetrics in both hospitals. Joyce was frequently and enthusiastically approached by seemingly complete strangers who recognized her as being present when their daughter, son, or grandchild was born, even decades after her retirement. Her competent, compassionate care never went unnoticed.

Following retirement, Joyce continued to care for others as a volunteer for Hospice – a program that provided her excellent care and comfort in her final days. Joyce and John enjoyed travel to Anegada, New Zealand and many other places, and she looked forward every week to playing bridge with her friends. 

Joyce was predeceased by her husband John, daughter Nicola and granddaughter Monika, and is survived by her sister Mavis, sons George (Monique) of Halifax, Nova Scotia and Philip of Los Alamos; her grandchildren Tom, Bonnie, George, Isabel, Loic and Yann; her cherished granddogs Wilbur and George Burns; and four great grandchildren.

In celebration of her life, please pass on her caring to others.  We encourage you to make a memorial donation to support Hospice through the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses (

Her family will gather to remember and celebrate her life at a later date.