Leslie John Kessler, Jr.
October 3, 1923 – October 3, 2020
Some called him Les, Brother Les, or Brother Kessler, but to most of us he was Pap-Paw, a man with a huge heart and personality to match. With his usual flair, he left this earth for heaven on his 97th birthday, October 3, 2020.
He was devoted to Jesus, his family, and his friends and had a special connection with each one. He never missed an opportunity to help, encourage, affirm, or lovingly speak truth into our lives. His most important accomplishment was leaving a legacy of faith in his family. He attended every birth and officiated every baptism and wedding. He rode dirt bikes into his 80’s, and had a great time kicking up some mud on the young guys trailing him. He played golf and bowled until recently. He taught many of his great and great-great grandchildren those sports and loved sharing his winning techniques with them.
Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Les and his high school sweetheart June Hale were married on December 24, 1941. They knew they would be separated by the war and did not want to wait for some uncertain time in the future. Their son Ronald David “Ronnie” was born on November 3, 1942. Despite assurance from Les’ friends that the military would never take him because he was too skinny, he was conscripted to serve in the U.S. Army during WWII almost immediately. Following training at Fort Belvoir, VA, Staten Island, NY, and Fort Ord, CA, he served as a Marine Engineman for Company C of the 593rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment operating landing craft delivering troops and supplies for campaigns in the Philippines, New Guinea, and Borneo. Les returned home on January 3, 1946, five months after the Japanese surrendered to Allied forces. He loved to tell the story of 3-year-old Ronnie running straight to him yelling, “That’s my daddy!” after having been apart for more than 2 years. They were best friends from that day forward. Les and his buddies from Company C remained friends, and they held annual reunions until recent years.
Hard-working and industrious, Leslie started selling newspapers door-to-door as a child and built a long career in the industrial diamond industry after the war. While working full-time, he earned an Associate of Science Degree from the University of Houston and a degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. During his career, he developed a business partnership and friendship with Jim Loomis and supplied diamond scribing tools to his company Loomis Industries. That partnership enabled Les to start his business the Trinity Company providing support for his family and the ability to refocus his life on ministry. Les continued working in his shop until his last month, dedicated to perfecting his system for setting diamonds in tools and faithfully serving his customers to the very end.
In 1955, Les had a life-changing encounter with God. He began attending church, studying the Bible, and even joined the choir. After graduating from Golden Gate Seminary, he devoted the rest of his life to his calling as a pastor serving congregations at First Baptist Church of Hawthorne, First Baptist Church of West Point, Calvary Baptist Church, and Rosslyn Baptist Church (now Northwest Crossing Baptist Church). He particularly loved inviting the children to join him on stage for his special children’s sermons.
At age 92, Les found love again and married Sue (Garwood) Kessler on July 25, 2015. Together, they enjoyed bowling and singing with the Celebration Singers at senior citizen facilities. His favorite song to sing for them was “I Just Love Old People.” Les and Sue were blessed with 5 joy-filled years together, and he liked to boast that they never had one single argument.
Many of his stories were captured in Les’ memoir, I Believe in Miracles, his account of an ordinary man who experienced the extraordinary hand of God throughout his life.
Les was born October 3, 1923, in Columbus, Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents Leslie John Kessler, Sr. and Rhoda Marie (Hyatt) Kessler, wife of 65 years June Kessler, daughters-in-law Martha Olbrych and Pam Kessler. He is survived by his wife Sue Kessler, son Ronald Kessler, grandchildren Glenda Seigle, Tracy Ramirez, Terri Smith, Ronda Gregory, and Jason Marland and wife Sheila, 15 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great-grandchildren, and step-children Jody Cram and Jeff Garwood.
Public viewing Sunday, October 11, 1:00-4:00pm, American Heritage Funeral Home, 10710 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, TX, 77038. Private family service Monday, October 12, 12:45pm. Service will be livestreamed: www.americanheritagefuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, a mission especially close to his heart, https://www.imb.org/lottie-moon-christmas-offering/, or doing an act of kindness for someone in need. Les would like that very much.
- Craig Seigle, Pallbearer
- Jerry Smith, Pallbearer
- Nick Zuiker, Pallbearer
- Stephon McCampbell, Pallbearer
- Jeff Garwood, Pallbearer
- Kyle Howell, Pallbearer
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Monday, October 12, 2020
Leslie John Kessler, Jr.
October 12, 2020
Les. You touched those around you in ways that only God can understand. One of my favorite memories was going riding with you and Gary. Not to mention the story of my first time out. Even after not being in touch in so many years. When I needed someone to talk to Christmas eve 5 years ago it was you I called. We talked like we been talking all along. I still remember the conversation. You helped me in more ways than you know. You left a big hole in this world. But your home now. God bless you Les. You will always be in my heart
October 9, 2020
I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Pap-Paw over the last 15 years first as a boyfriend of his great granddaughter Lacie and for the past 4 years as a great grandson n law. When we first met I was young and at times ignorant and he let me know how he felt every time I was. After going through the hardest times in my life I decided to rededicate my life to Jesus Christ and was blessed to be baptized by him and join his church. I also had the pleasure of him marrying his great granddaughter and I in Geronimo, Texas at my dad’s wedding venue a day I’ll never forget. Him and I grew very close over the years and had a lot in common. My promise he asked me to keep was to be a leader and to teach my family about Jesus. He will be greatly missed and we will keep the dirt bike riding and Gospel Spreading traditions alive!
October 9, 2020
After reading his book, I feel that I knew him for years and a few years speaking to him on the telephone. Leslie Jr. was my Dad's 1st cousin, he was family. I gotten to know his granddaughters through face book. What a fine family! Ron your the leader now, take care of them. My deepest sympathy and prayers are for all of you.
Richard L. Kessler
Great Grandson of Robert Albert Kessler, Sr.
Allen & Sherri Roy
October 6, 2020
What a Blessing it has been to have known you! I think about all the lives that have been changed because of you and the homecoming you must of had of those that have gone before you. We are grateful for your friendship through the years and will never forget you. We will one day see you in Eternity! Prayers for Sue and all the Family.
October 6, 2020
I’ve known Brother Les for almost my entire life and I’ll never forget all the times growing up I would sit and watch him and my dad play ping pong together after church on Sunday nights. He was my father’s closest mentor and I’ll always remember how he would come check on my grandparents and even my dad when he got sick. I’m glad that my dad was waiting for him in Heaven now they’re both home together. He’s at rest now, but I’ll pray for Sue and the rest of his family.
October 5, 2020
I have so many memories to share. I'm nearly 38 years old, bro Les has been apart of my life from the beginning. He was such an awesome man to know and have as your friend and pastor. I've trusted so many confidential consults with him, he married my parents and then years later married me and my husband. I loved Mr. Leslie Kessler with all my heart, I looked to him for guidance all the time. My dogs would die or get hurt, my grandparents are in the hospital, my health or what have you .... I would call bro Les for guidance and prayer. My dad years ago would ride dirt bikes with him, his late wife June, was an awesome lady. I felt a closeness with these two as if they were my grandparents.....my world is empty without bro Les, but I do know he is flying high above and always in my heart forever. I love you always Bro Les and will miss your wise words and prayers.
October 5, 2020
There are too many memories to leave here! Riding his dirt bike off the porch at VBS, singing specials, his tales of his military service, telling the police officer who pulled him over on the way to church that he lived by grace, not the law (he didn’t get a ticket)! These are some of my favorites that come to mind. He was a joy to know and serve with in ministry. And he went home on his birthday! What a birthday party he received! Bro. Les, we loved you and I know you loved us. I’m glad that Phil was there to meet you at the gate. Sue, you’re in my prayers. Until we meet again, Les! The other Leslie ❤️