Cleared for takeoff! On October 25, 2018 pilot Frederick “Fred” D. Kessler made his final departure from life far sooner than expected, precise vectors unknown but safe passage to final destination guaranteed.
After decades of relatively unblemished health, Fred was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in late summer 2018. After a short but intense battle with the dreaded disease and its many challenging treatments, he died quietly at Nottingham Village Nursing Center at the age of 78.
Fred was a true visionary in the long-term care industry and dedicated his life to serving the housing and healthcare needs of Pennsylvania seniors. He and his business partners built several nursing homes throughout Pennsylvania in the 1970’s, but Fred’s crown jewel was Nottingham Village, one of the countries last family-owned, independent Continuing Care Retirement Communities.
There are those who say no one ever dies wishing they had spent more time at the office, but Fred was probably the exception. His work was his passion, his staff were his family and Nottingham was his second home, so it was only fitting that his final days were lived out as a resident of the facility that was his pride and joy.
Fred was born in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, on May 5, 1940, the second child of Frederick and Faye Miller Kessler. He grew up in Northumberland, Pennsylvania and considered himself a true ‘Pineknotter’, always loyal to the community where he spent his formative years.
Fred’s father owned a highway construction company, F.D. Kessler Construction Company, and during his youth Fred spent many hours working with his father on various road jobs throughout Pennsylvania. Sadly, Fred lost his father when he was only 19 years old, but this untimely loss gave Fred a formidable work ethic and powerful self-reliance that he carried with him throughout life.
Fred attended school in Northumberland and graduated from The Lawrenceville School in 1958, attended Cornell University for two years and ultimately graduated from Bucknell University in 1962. He graduated from Dickinson Law School in 1965 and received an LL.M. in tax law from New York University in 1966.
Fred practiced law in Lewisburg for many years, serving as the Solicitor for various local townships as well as Evangelical Community Hospital. He was a member of the Union County Bar Association and also did pro-bono work for Lewisburg’s Packwood House Museum since its inception in the 1970’s.
Professionally, Fred was a licensed Pennsylvania Nursing Home Administrator. He also served on the Board of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association and served two terms on the State Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators.
Being a private pilot was Fred’s lifetime joy. He started flying at age 16 and at his death had several thousand hours of flight time. He could identify every private aircraft ever made. He read about planes, talked about planes and dreamed about planes. His plane was his ‘time machine’ and he flew it across the country to California, to Mexico, to the Bahamas, to Nova Scotia, New Orleans, New England, Florida and everywhere in between. Fred saved every issue of Flying magazine and AOPA magazine since the 1960’s. He said you never knew when you might need to look up some bit of useful information about a particular plane or aviation procedure.
Fred was a lifetime member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and was also a member of the Lawyer Pilots Bar Association. In 2016 he was awarded the Wright Brothers ‘Master Pilot” Award from the Federal Aviation Administration, in appreciation for fifty years of dedicated service, technical expertise and many outstanding contributions to further the cause of safety in aviation.
Fred also enjoyed playing golf, particularly his annual golf excursion to St. Michael’s, Maryland that he took with local friends for over fifty years. Fred was also a member of Bucknell Golf Club, Susquehanna Valley Country Club, Bent Pine Golf Club and Bald Peak Colony Club.
Fred was the longest standing member of Sand Run Hunting Club and he was also a member of the Lewisburg Rotary Club for many years.
Fred is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Virginia Ann Reeser, of Milton, Pennsylvania, married August 17, 1963, a daughter, Amanda G. Kessler, who is married to Andrew R.S. Misener, and one grandson, Andrew Frederick Misener, all of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He is also survived by a sister, Cynthia Kessler Bullington, of Brunswick, Maine, and three nieces.
Following his wishes there will not be a formal memorial service, but all are invited to a Celebration of Life Reception to be held Sunday, November 18, 2018, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at the Susquehanna Valley Country Club, Hummels Wharf, Pennsylvania. Should friends desire, contributions may be sent to the charity of their choice.