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Kelso Lee Wessel, age 89, longtime resident of London, OH passed away Saturday, September 16, 2023, at Christ Hospital, Jersey City, NJ enroute home from a three-week trip to Europe. Born at home in Tampico, IN on September 23, 1933, the fourth of 13 children, he grew up to achieve his goal of teaching agricultural economics both locally and internationally and lovingly raising his family in a rural setting.
He grew up on an 80-acre farm in Southern Indiana with his parents and 10 siblings. He was an avid reader, always with a desire for more knowledge. He graduated from Tampico High School in 1951 and dreamed of someday college, molding the lives of young people on a world basis. He and his brothers are honored in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. He was active in Indiana Rural Youth and served as state president. In 1955 he was a delegate on the International Farm Youth Exchange program to Bolivia, followed by two years’ service in the United States Navy. He entered Purdue University eight years after high school with the goal of teaching at the university level. During his summers at Purdue, he led student groups to Mexico, Chile and England with the Experiment in International Living out of Putney, Vt. He received his BS at Purdue, MS at the University of Connecticut and began work on his PhD at Cornell University.
He met Judy Kocher from Avon, IN at her interview for the IFYE program in 1961, and they were married on June 27, 1965, at the University Lutheran Church in Lafayette, IN. He always told everyone they had a 13-month honeymoon in Bolivia while he gathered data for his dissertation. Back at Cornell he completed his PhD and Judy her MS in 1968. For his teaching career he joined Ohio State, Department of Agricultural Economics with the first two years living in Brazil and teaching on an OSU contract at ESALQ in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. They ended the tour with their first around the world trip in 1970.
During his early years at OSU, they bought a home in Upper Arlington and started a family. Time passed with 17 years in the classroom and an additional 10 years teaching and Extension Specialist in Direct Marketing. During this time, he also led a student group to Brazil, taught at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia and the family moved to a farm and historic home in Lafayette, in Madison County. There were more student study groups in Europe, and a semester teaching at the University of Florida. During his career at OSU, he also consulted for VOCA and Citizens in Russia and took Roadside Marketers to England, Australia, and New Zealand.
After retiring in March 1995, he took a position for two years teaching at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He introduced roadside marketers from the US and UK to agriculture on the African continent and hosted a former OSU president. His wife and children also experienced many national and international travel experiences as a family. He continued consulting work in Moldova, Armenia, Kenya, and Russia. He and Judy participated in a mission trip to Thailand, and he served as a deacon at the First Presbyterian Church in London.
Both Kelso and Judy were inducted into the OSU Farm Science Review Hall of Fame in 1999. He was an active member of the London Rotary Club since 1980, serving as President in 2002, an active member of Madison County Retired Teachers Association, active member of the Ohio National Road Association and past member of Madison County Farm Bureau and Board. He was active in numerous OSU and Extension retiree groups. He was also a member of the Hendricks County Antique Tractor and Machinery Association in Indiana.
In retirement, he took pride in his collection of classic cars, farming, being adventurous, such as jumping out of an airplane on his 75th birthday and sharing more time with family and ongoing renovation projects. Kelso and Judy split time between the Ohio farm, Judy’s homeplace and farm in Avon, Indiana, and another home in Springfield, Ohio. Kelso and Judy traveled extensively, highlights being to Germany in search of roots, 113-days around the world cruise in 2014, to the most recent trip to Europe climbing to the highest point at the Eagle’s nest in Germany.
Kelso is predeceased by his parents, Wilbert Henry, Sr. and Viola Steinkamp Wessel, brothers Kenneth Wessel, Wilbert “Jr. Wessel, Edward “Ed” Wessel, Debron “Deb” Wessel and Walter Wessel, sisters Rosa Nell Wessel and Violet “Sis” Wischmeier and sisters-in-law Eunice Wessel, Mary Lou Wessel, Bernice Wessel, Wilma Wessel, and Juanita Wessel.
He is survived by his spouse, Judith Ann “Judy” Wessel, two children, Bryce (Shelly) Wessel and Renee (Randy) Blankley, and four grandchildren Samuel Blankley, Maggie Wessel, Sophia Blankley and Luke Wessel, brothers Lelard “Lee”, Wessel, William, “Bill” Wessel, Ivan (Shirley) Wessel, and sisters Audra (Mike) Deaton and Opal (Ron) Roark and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Family will receive friends from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 25, 2023, at the Eberle-Fisher Funeral Home, 103 North Main Street, London, OH. An additional viewing will be at the London Presbyterian Church, 211 Garfield Avenue, London, OH 43140, 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, followed by the funeral service at 11 a.m. The burial will be held at Deer Creek Cemetery in Lafayette, OH.
Condolences for the family are encouraged to be shared online at www.eberlefisherfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to IFYE Association of the USA, Roger Sherer, PO Box 452, Bluffton, IN 46714-0052, or to Deer Creek Township Cemetery, 75 Middle Street SE, London, Ohio 43140, to help with beautification of the cemetery.