Retired teacher Luella L. Kessener dies at 94
Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) - Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Author: Ellen Robertson
Luella L. Kessener, who taught English literature and writing
composition, Latin and journalism, took pride in her students'
accomplishments long after they left her classroom.
In turn, her students remembered her.
"I came [to my mother's] home [on Thursday], and my driveway was
plowed," said her son, Paul Kessener of Paris, France. "It was one
of her students."
Several years ago, a former student called to thank her for the help
she had given him in finishing high school. "It was very rewarding
to have someone look you up after some 25 years," her son said.
"My mother was a dedicated civil servant. She was that way with
every task she undertook. She just challenged all her students to be
their best and do the best they could and recognized that everyone
moved at a different pace."
She taught at Thomas Jefferson and Maggie L. Walker high schools in
the Richmond school system and Gill Country Day School in Richmond
before going to J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and Goochland
High School, where she retired in 1980.
Mrs. Kessener, 94, who died Tuesday in a Henrico County nursing
home, will be remembered at a Mass on Friday at 11 a.m. at St.
Bridget Catholic Church, 6006 Three Chopt Road, where she was a
A private burial will be held in Hollywood Cemetery.
A native of Atlantic, Iowa, she earned a bachelor's degree in the
classics at Monmouth College and then taught in Iowa schools.
After obtaining a master's degree in English literature at the
University of Iowa, she went to Europe as a correspondent and
associate editor of "The Merchants" trade journal.
In the post-World War II Netherlands, she met the man she married,
Frederik Gerard Kessener. They lived in The Hague before returning
to the U.S. and later moving to Richmond in 1968. He died in 1998.
A Catholic convert in Europe, she was a director and former
president of the Catholic Woman's Club.
She contributed to the Virginia Historical Society's recognition of
the first Catholic settlers in Colonial Virginia -- members of the
Brent family -- and wrote the legend on the roadside marker placed
on U.S. 1 at Aquia in Stafford County that commemorates those
settlers and the Brent Cemetery where they are buried.
"Lou worked hard to get that site preserved," said Mildred "Midge"
Scannell, a friend in Richmond.
At one point, a developer wanted to take down a large crucifix on
the Aquia site to build a shopping mall, but Mrs. Kessener
successfully argued against it in front of the Stafford Board of
She told of a healing believed to have occurred after prayer at the
crucifix and how important the area was to Catholics. "When she
thought something was important, she didn't stop at anything,"
In addition to her son, survivors include two grandchildren.
Section: News Obituaries
Record Number: 87ea09661921b89f24968efda972159fb45b32
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