Hugh Kessel
Hugh Kessel
Hugh Kessel
Hugh Kessel
Hugh Kessel
Hugh Kessel

Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Olympia First Baptist Church
904 Washington St. SE
Olympia, Washington, United States

Obituary of Hugh Gregory Kessel

Hugh Gregory Kessel, age 87, passed away on Thursday, March 28, 2019 in Olympia, Washington, his home for over 30 years. He was born on October 23, 1931 in Saginaw, Michigan to Edward Kessel and Margaret (McKenna) Kessel.


Hugh was a navigator and an instructor in celestial navigation in the Air Force, earning high honors. He married Phyllis Solter and soon graduated with a B.S. from Cal Poly Pomona. He passed several difficult actuarial exams, working as an actuary for Milliman and Robertson and the Washington State Insurance Commissioner. He loved golfing, gardening, caring for animals and traveling.


Several years after a divorce, Hugh joined the Olympia Mountaineers, where he met and married Joyce Hancock. They hiked, biked, traveled, took pictures, enjoyed jazz, and served Jesus together. He loved visiting his brother, Jerry, in Vancouver, Washington, reminiscing about old times and telling bad jokes. He excelled at building tall Lego towers and beating on metal trash cans with grandson, Dylan; going on bike rides down the Chehalis-Western Trail; and walking in the woods counting trillium. He enjoyed watching sunsets at Long Beach, Washington; eating Thai, Mexican, and Indian food; playing jazz piano for hours; and tapping his foot to music at the Port Townsend Jazz Festival and Jazz Alley in Seattle.


Hugh was a generous and caring husband and coworker, never too busy to mentor and help others. He was always reading a manual or the news; could fix wiring, chairs, cars or whatever; and would spend hours getting a project just right. He was the master of puns delivered with a mischievous glint in his eye, an adventurous cook, an exacting Photoshop artist, a pushover with cats, and a loyal lover of family and friends. He is survived by his wife, Joyce; brother, Jerry; nephew, Jeremy; three step-children; six step-grandchildren; and Diego, the cat.


A memorial service will be held June 1, 2019, 11:00 a.m. at Olympia First Baptist Church, 904 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Thurston County Food Bank, 220 Thurston Ave. NE, Olympia, WA 98501.

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