Robert Leland Kersten

September 1, 1931April 10, 2021

Robert L. Kersten peacefully took the hand of Jesus and entered heaven on April 10, 2021. Robert was born in St. Clair, Michigan, to Clarence and Juanita Kersten and grew up in Marysville, MI, in a loving and caring Christian home. He was in the marching band at Marysville High School, where he graduated in 1949. It was there that he met Carol Frye, his high school sweetheart. He was a talented athlete and loved music, playing the tuba and piano.

Bob began his studies at the University of Michigan and played tuba in the U of M marching band. He completed his college career at Alma College, where he was on the basketball team and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He and Carol were married in Alma in 1951. After graduation Bob worked for General Motors for 9 years while living and working in Saginaw, MI. He was called to the ministry in 1960, and attended Garrett Theological Seminary, graduating with a Masters of Divinity degree in 1967. He served in various United Methodist Churches in Michigan over his ministry of 35 years. Bob loved and served the Lord with his whole heart, mind, soul and strength. He focused his ministry passion on families, children/youth, missions and evangelism. He also cared deeply for camping programs, world hunger and stewardship.

Bob and Carol were married for a remarkable 65 years, until Carol passed away in 2017. They were blessed with six children: Larry (Linda) Kersten, Robert Kersten II, Ann (David) Smiley, Laura (Stephen) Hahn, Susan (friend Corey) Symington-Kersten and Sondra (Lee) Johnson, 16 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Jack and sister Jane Butters.

After retiring from the ministry Bob and Carol settled in Lansing, MI, still serving in churches and camps. They loved being snowbirds with their Arizona family and moved permanently to Chandler, AZ, in 2015. They were active in their senior community and their local church in Chandler. Together they shared their love for Jesus with all who knew them. Bob loved and cared deeply for anyone whom he met. He loved to stay in contact with all of his family and friends through his artwork and kind, loving letters and phone calls. Bob lived admirably after losing Carol and continued to be active in the programs at his home. He always enjoyed sharing his humor and lifetime experiences! Our family would like to thank The Gardens at Ocotillo staff, Hospice of the Valley nurse Teresa and Angela, Endeavor Home Care caregivers Tim, Barbara and Sylvia, our niece Tracy Kersten and his daughter Susan for their additional love and care during his last few weeks of needing additional care. He was always filled with love and joy for the Lord and concerned for the souls of all people. He was well-known wherever he lived and continued to share the gospel until his last days. We know he lost nothing in his passing, but instead gained everything. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled… I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am…. John 14:1-6.

Private burial services will be held at Riverlawn Cemetery in Marysville, MI.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of the Valley,, Simpson Park Camp,, or Bayshore Camp and Family Ministries,


  • Carol Kersten, Wife (deceased)
  • Larry Kersten (Linda), Son
  • Robert Kersten II, Son
  • Ann Smiley (David), Daughter
  • Laura Hahn (Stephen), Daughter
  • Susan Symington-Kersten (Corey), Daughter
  • Sondra Johnson (Lee), Daughter
  • 16 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

    He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Jack and sister Jane Butters.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Robert Leland Kersten

have a memory or condolence to add?

William (Rev.) Amundsen

April 14, 2021

Dear Family and Friends,
I am a Board Member of The Michigan Council on Alcohol Problems. I share with all of you Bob's and Carole's support and effort to improve MICAP through the years. Bob served on our Board of Directors for over 20 years, and it was with sadness that we let him go when they moved to Arizona. I will share this news with our Board of Directors.

Rev. W. J. (Bill) Amundsen, Retired
Board Member and Treasurer, MICAP

Allen McCreedy

April 14, 2021

Robert and I graduated from Garrett the same time and served the church for 35 years in the same West Michigan Conference and then retired the same year I believe in 2000. We served together on some conference committees. I have many good memories of him and send my condolences to the family.

Wyatt Bush

April 13, 2021

I love you grandpa and in my eyes, you were the embodiment of everything the best a person can be. We didn't talk much after my parents' divorce and the move to Arizona, but I feel your love and influence every day. I am glad I was able to spend many weekends in my adolescence together with you to helping with the yard work :)

Rebecca Frye

April 13, 2021

I loved your father! He was such a kind man and had a great sense of humor! When we got together, he would share his jokes with me and we would play Cribbage. He always would win because he knew how to play the game! I love the God he loved and he always showed me His love! I will miss him but am so happy I knew him!
Becky Frye