Anna Dean Kepper had a passion for preserving the history of southern Nevada. As curator of UNLV’s Special Collections, she convinced area pioneers to donate their photos and papers. As an oral historian, she made sure that individuals’ stories would be preserved. And as the founder of the historic preservation effort in southern Nevada, she is given credit for saving the Las Vegas Mormon Fort as well as founding families’ homes.
Anna Dean Nohl was born May 12, 1938 in Seattle, Washington. She received two master’s degrees in New York State and then moved to Las Vegas in 1973 with her husband, Jack Kepper, a geology professor. At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Kepper was active in university affairs through service on committees such as budget and planning, procedures and policy, public relations, museum of natural history, and beautification, in addition to her work for UNLV Special Collections. She was the curator of Special Collections from 1975 until her death in 1983.
Kepper was equally as devoted to historic preservation outside of the university. She held numerous memberships in historic organizations, such as the Preservation Association of Clark County, the Southern Nevada Historical Society, Boulder City Museum and Historical Association, Nevada Historical Society, and the Nevada State Library Association. She was also active in the American Association for State and Local History, Intermountain Archivists, Society of California Archivists, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she served as Nevada’s representative.
In 1974, Kepper founded the Association of the Preservation of the Las Vegas Mormon Fort, which later became the Preservation Association of Clark County, serving as president from 1974-1979. Also, Kepper was a moving force in the relocation of historic downtown homes. Kepper coordinated Houssels House’s relocation to the UNLV campus for adaptive use as architectural studies classrooms. As advisor to the Junior League, Kepper aided in the restoration of pioneer businessman Will Beckley’s house at the Museum of Southern Nevada.
In 1980, Kepper was recognized for her hard work as the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Nevada Historical Preservation Conference. In 1982, she received the Certificate of Merit from the Southern Nevada Historical Society. Kepper was also honored by the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association for helping Boulder City gain entrance to the National Register as a historic site.
Kepper died of cancer at fifty on December 20, 1983. UNLV posthumously awarded Kepper a Master’s of Public Administration for which she had passed her final comprehensive examination eighteen days prior to her death.
Anna Dean Nohl Kepper papers. Nevada Women’s Archives Special Collections, UNLV. Collection number 87-044.
Photo courtesy of UNLV Special Collections.
May not be reproduced without the special permission of UNLV Special Collections.