Dietrich Kessel, age 97, died peacefully Wednesday, May 15th at the Elgin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where he had resided since 2010. Dietrich was born in Paige, Texas on September 27, 1921 to Emily and Gerhard Kessel into a family that would eventually grow to comprise 14 children. He was always a person of faith, being baptized and confirmed at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Paige. As a youth, German was the primary language spoken around the Kessel household and the surrounding community, and though English was taught in public school in Paige, young Dietrich would not become proficient in the language of our nation until completion of the 8th grade, the highest level available in Paige. He continued his education and graduated high school in Elgin. In 1942 at the age of 21 he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving as a gunner aboard ships which patrolled northern and western Europe, the Mediterranean areas of northern Africa, and to what now is called the Middle East and the Persian Gulf areas. He returned to Central Texas after completion of his enlistment, and on December 22nd, 1946 Dietrich and the love of his life, Helen Loraine Gustafson of Taylor were married at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Lund community northeast of Elgin. They would make their home in Elgin and reside here for the remainder of their lives. From this union of love were born 3 children who survive him today, Betty Creecy and her daughters Christi and Casi, Beverly Snowden and her sons Daren, Brian, and Don Jr., Dale and his daughter Candace and son Kendall. Dietrich was also blessed to be a great-grandfather to 6 children and 2 great-great-granddaughters. Helen Loraine preceded him in death in 2014. He was employed at the United States Post Office and Postal Service for 35 years as a city mail carrier. One of Dietrich’s passions was the game of baseball, to which he devoted many hours, years, and decades as caretaker of the Elgin Little League field and as coach of the Kiwanis “Blues” Little League team, as well as coach of the Elgin VFW sponsored Pony Express team and a Community League Baseball umpire. Because of his connections to thousands of individuals through these endeavors Dietrich was known affectionately and respectfully as “Mr. Kessel”. Dietrich was an active member of Elgin VFW Post 6115, serving not only as Post Commander, but also as Texas District 28 Commander, Chaplain, and Post Inspector. In February 1985 Dietrich Kessel was honored as a National Aide-de Camp by Mr. Billy Ray Cameron, the Commander in Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Dietrich was a faithful and active member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church serving as Sunday School teacher, Church Council and Brotherhood member and officer, and caretaker of the church and cemetery properties.
On a more personal level, Dietrich loved hunting, fishing, dancing, playing dominoes and Canasta, listening to Polka music and SINGING. These things pale in comparison, however, to the supreme love of his life-Loraine. Tell her “hello” and give her a hug for us, Honey!
Family and friends will at gather, for one hour prior to services, at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Lund on Wednesday, May 22nd from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM. A Funeral Service will be conducted at 11:00 AM with Reverends Dale Kessel and Ana Mae Storbeck presiding. Interment will follow, with Military Honors, at the Lund Cemetery.