J. Michael Ephland

j.  ephland

July 13, 1945 ~ August 22, 2023

Born in: Bethesda, MD
Resided in: Leicester, NC

James Michael Ephland, 78, passed away Tuesday, August 22, 2023. Mike was born July 13, 1945, to the late Charles Ray Ephland, Jr., and the late Grace Goodwin Ephland.

He graduated from Grimsley High School, Greensboro, NC, in 1963. He attended NC State University and completed a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics. He then earned an MBA at UNC-Chapel Hill. Joining the U.S. Navy, he completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an Ensign. Most of his Naval Service was aboard the U.S.S. Yellowstone in the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas and he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He was a Vietnam era veteran and received health care at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, NC. Following discharge, Mike worked in several businesses as an internal auditor, corporate planner, and senior auditor. He then started his own real estate business and home repair/remodeling business. While working, Mike also enjoyed boat restoration and time at Lake James. Mike attended Wooden Boat Shows and built his own skiff at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center located in Beaufort, NC.

Mike loved nature and all animals, especially cats. Mike and his family cared for more than 200 feral cats at his workshop, home on Town Mountain Road, and his current residence in Leicester, by providing medical treatment and finding homes for adoption.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda Plemmons Ephland; daughter, Kelsey Lynn Core; brother, Charles R. Ephland, III (Joellen Buckio); and two nieces, Kristen Ephland Cox (Randy) and Lauren Ephland.

His family will greet friends on Friday September 1, 2023, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Groce Funeral Home on Patton Ave. A private memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Friends2Ferals.org or to MountainPetRescueAvl.org, honoring his dedication to cat rescue.


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


Visitation: September 1, 2023 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


Navy Veteran

View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. Brenda and Kelsey, we’re so sorry for your loss. You are in our prayers to get through these hard times. We are here for you always. Bill and Marie

  2. Brenda & Kelsey,
    I am sorry to lear of your loss. Hold your memories close to your heart and know that you have family and friends who will keep you both in their prayers.
    In Sympathy,
    Freda Plemmons Woody

    • Thank you Freda. We have such amazing memories with him. Those memories are what is helping us get through this. We appreciate all of the support.

  3. Please know you and Kelsey are in our prayers. We are so sorry to hear this. Love you dear friend. Let us know if we can be of help.

    • Thank you so much Coach and Miriam. Coach Metcalf, he loved following you with football. We love you too.

    • Thank you Charlie and Miriam. Mike loved area high school football and enjoyed Charlie’s commentaries on teams and players.

  4. I am so thankful to have had Mike as another father. He always showed that Family isn’t about blood, but about love. Even in his last days, he claimed me and told me how much he loved me. I miss him dearly, but will cherish our time and memories. I love you Mike forever and always.

  5. Brenda I am truly sorry to hear of your and your family’s loss. He sounded like a kind and loving guy and I know you all will miss him. You are in my thoughts and prayers.🙏

  6. Brenda, I am sorry to hear of yours and Kelsey’s loss. Our journeys include joy and sorrow which are a part of our love and God’s grace. Kip

  7. A wonderful, sweet and kind man who was a good friend, neighbor, husband and stepfather! And the best cat lover I have ever seen! You are missed Mike❤️ I will never forget after the Blizzard of 93, Clark, Mike and I walked from Town Mountain all the way to North Asheville Ingles to get kerosene and whatever essentials were left on the shelves. We got the kerosene, the last of the milk and bread and Mike carried the all important essential…Beer!😘 So many good memories!🥰

  8. Brenda and Kelsey,

    Mike was a wonderful and sweet soul and my family member most like me and my Daddy! I loved Mike dearly (just as my Daddy did too) and I had high hopes I would get to tell him so again in person once I got back home to SC!

    I’m heartbroken over Mike’s passing. My heart goes out to you both as you grieve this major loss. But I rejoice with you knowing that we will all be reunited again one day in heaven!

    I’m praying the Lord Jesus Christ wraps His loving arms around you both! I look forward to seeing you both very soon when we get back home to SC!


    • Dear Judy and Tom, Thank you for the sweet message. Mike often thought of you as the sister he never had. He would love to know you are moving back home. Let me hear from you as your plans progress.

  9. Brenda and Kelsey, I am so glad you had a wonderful husband, father and most important, kind, funny, gentile man to know, love, and be loved by in return !!!! Mike was our first real friend when Ken & I came to Asheville 35 years ago, and remained so. Love to you both.

    Leslie Wunder

    • Leslie, Mike loved you and Ken just like family. He was truly blessed to have you as friends. My heart is broken.

  10. Brenda and Kelsey, I am deeply saddened by your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. We must trust God. He does not make mistakes. His eye is on the sparrow, so we know he watches us.

  11. Rest in peace Cousin Mike. Brenda, Charles and family, we are sorry for your loss. Mike was a fine man and will be missed. May our Lord bless and keep each of you during this difficult time. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  12. Brenda and Kelsey,

    Im so sorry to hear of your loss. I never met Mike but he sounds like a wonderful man who you were blessed to have in your lives. You both are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

    • Thank you Rose. You know the loss I feel and the heartbreak of missing your spouse. He was a good and kind man.

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

Accessibility Tools