Robert Joseph Kessel (1934-2015)

Robert Joseph Kessel passed away on March 1, in Gaylord, Mich. He was born in Pontiac on June 17, 1934, on Fathers’ Day. Bob was the only child of Bertram and Marguerite Kessel. His father was a metallurgist at GM Pontiac Motor Division. Robert grew up spending summers on Elk Lake, near Attica. His loves were fishing, boats, classic cars, and his family.

Robert Kessel
Robert Joseph Kessel

Robert graduated from Pontiac Senior High School, where he was an accomplished Drum Major and a Latin class standout. He entered the U.S. Army in November, 1954, during the Korean War. Stationed in Europe, he helped to build military camps in France.

After returning to civilian life, he married Betty Apigian in 1963, and gave a loving home to his wife and two sons, Robert Bradley and Brent. He was also a proud grandfather of Cole and Armen Kessel. Bob and Betty were always together. In 1964, they bought a party store in Pontiac and operated it for a number of years. Although he was held up several times, and was shot one time, Bob refused to give in to the criminal element and remained in business. A hard working man, he worked 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the store.

Robert was a quiet man who, together with Betty, attended kebab dinners, Armenian lectures, book signings, and many other Armenian activities, caused people to call Bob an “ABC”—Armenian By Choice! He took pride in his wife’s weekly columns in the Armenian Weekly; he learned and respected Armenian history from his father-in-law, Mamigon Apigian, who had introduced Bob to his daughter, Betty. The family enjoyed summer nights on the Apigian porch, drinking cold beer and eating his mother-in-law, Takouhie’s cheese, or hamburger beoregs. Notably, among his many virtues, as a veteran and a patriot, Robert remained a steadfast member of the American Legion for the rest of his life.

Military Honors and interment committal took place on March 5, in Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Mich.


The Armenian Weekly editors and staff wish to extend their sincere and heartfelt condolences to longtime Armenian Weekly columnist Betty Apigian Kessel for the loss of her beloved husband Robert Joseph Kessel, who passed away on March 1.


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Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. It is With our deepest sympathy Mrs. Betty Apigian to hear about Mr. Robert Joseph Kessle’s passing. May God Bless his soul and comfort you and your Beautiful Family. Liz Nazarian and Stephen Sihelnik Family.

  2. My dear Betty and family: I did not know of your dear Bob’s passing, and I was so very saddened when glancing at the Weekly by chance. How does one come to terms with such a loss? May God give you strength and courage to cope. I share this “Train Story” with you: At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train–and they will be significant –our siblings, children, friends, and even the love of our life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go unnoticed that we don;t realize they vacated their seats. The train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers, requiring that we give the best of ourselves. The mystery to everyone is: we do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty, we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life. More importantly thank God for the journey. Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train….Winston Churchill “I thank God for the joy of existence” Margaret Lafian April 1, 2015 P.S. I’m up late and wild hours. If you just need to unwind, laugh, cry, reminisce, or verbally dump, I ‘m here: 313 531-7475 Togh Asdvadz loosavoreh Bobeen hokeen. Amen

  3. Betty: sent you a message on the funeral home website; hope you got it. We were so very sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. We have such fond memories of our visits to Pontiac and your visits to Brantford. Bob is at peace now. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time.

    Your Cousins Margaret, Charlie & Family, Mary & Marilyn

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