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 member.

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 Supervisors.

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," Scannell said.

In addition to her son, survivors include two grandchildren.

Section: News Obituaries
Record Number: 87ea09661921b89f24968efda972159fb45b32
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