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 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.