Remembrance: John H. Kessler

Trustee Emeritus, 1945–2021.

I first met John when we were students at Monmouth. I was in the Phi Delta Sigma fraternity, and we played his team in intramural football. He was just a heck of an all-around athlete and passionate sports enthusiast. He had a competitiveness about him that always showed through, but in a very positive way; you could tell it was part of his being.

Years later, I’d kid him that my team must have won that game because, afterward, he joined Phi Delta Sigma. John always seemed to be on the winning team.

John and I lost touch for a while after graduation but reconnected in the late 1980s. He was always very passionate about Monmouth, and he helped reconnect me with the University. We became involved with the Touchdown Club, raising money to start the football program at Monmouth. I remember John calling me and some other fraternity brothers and saying that if we helped him raise the funds, he’d build the stadium. We did, and, sure enough, the stadium has his name on it.

That was the kind of enthusiasm John had, and he brought it to everything he did in life: his marriage to Henni, his work, his faith, and his support for Monmouth and other causes. He was always eager to do anything and everything to help; in turn, he made you want to do the same. His zeal was contagious.

One of our fraternity brothers, Paul Sperber ’68, ’00M, upon learning of John’s passing wrote that he was “honored to have shared space and time with someone who could make such a mark on so many lives.” I think that describes John perfectly. He brought unfettered passion and enthusiasm to everything he did, and, in the process, he left Monmouth a better place.

The author is a Trustee Emeritus of Monmouth University.