Robert "Bob" J. Kessler, 87, of Aberdeen, S.D., passed away Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, surrounded by family at Avera St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen after a long and full life.
He was born Dec. 22, 1924, the first child born to George and Elizabeth (Sahli) Kessler at St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen. He grew up and attended Catholic school in Aberdeen. In 1940, he and his younger siblings, Ann and Ken, helped their parents start a small grocery store on the corner of State Street and 5th Avenue, where the family also lived.
In 1943, at age 18, he volunteered for the Army and served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, seeing combat in Europe throughout World War II. Following the end of the war, he marched in the Victory Parade in New York City before being discharged.
Robert “Bob” J. Kessler
After the war, he lived for a short time in California before returning to Aberdeen to help with the family business. During his involvement and under his direction, Kessler's Grocery moved three times, finally moving to the current location.
In 1948, he met Kathleen Foran from New York City, while she was visiting her sister, who lived in an apartment above the grocery store. He saw her walk down the stairs, rushed over from behind the meat counter and asked her on a date. They were married later that year and had six children.
In his life, he was active, in various ways, in the American Legion, the Catholic Foresters, the Knights of Columbus, the VFW and was on the board of directors for 1st National Bank. He was also active in the early years of the Aberdeen Development Corporation and was instrumental in raising the money to purchase and develop the Aberdeen Industrial Park. He also opened another business, The Lumber Company, which entertained Aberdeen until the early 1990s.
He enjoyed getting to know people and had many friends in Aberdeen; Alaska; Pine Island; at Mina Lake; and any other place where he hunted, fished or just passed through. He liked to entertain his friends at he and Kay's home, and he was always eager to lend a helping hand to his friends and anyone in need.
Mr. Kessler was an avid sportsman and loved the outdoors. He was an "expert" hunter and fisherman and delighted in teaching these skills to his children and grandchildren. He loved being a father. That passion transferred to being an enthusiastic grandfather and family gatherings always included games for all.
He was surrounded by family when he passed, as his devoted and loving wife of 63 years held his hand and sang to him.
He was preceded in death by his parents, grandparent, and younger brother, Ken Kessler.
He is survived by his wife, Kathleen "Kay" (Foran) Kessler; three daughters, Ann McDonald of Pine Island, Betty (Ed) Koren of Walden, N.Y., and Joelene Oakes of Aberdeen; three sons, George (Mary Kay) Kessler of Mina, Tim (Amy) Kessler of Aberdeen and Tom (Laura) Kessler of Mina; 17 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren, with 2 that will be born this fall; his younger sister, Sr. Ann Kessler O.S.B. of Yankton; and two nephews.
The family prefers memorials to South Dakota Kids Fishing For Freedom, which provides an opportunity for children of deployed and recently redeployed soldiers to spend a day on the water fishing with area professional fisherman and anglers, a meal and prizes. It's an event designed to give recognition to the many sacrifices made by our military and their families to protect our freedom. The program is directed by the South Dakota Walleye Classic Festival Committee a 501 (c) (3) Corporation. SD Walleye Classic, PO Box 202, Alaska, SD 57420.
Carlsen Funeral Home and Crematory of Aberdeen has been entrusted with arrangements. www.carlsenfh.com