Former GA moderator Silas Kessler dies at 100

St. Louis native served nationally and internationally

November 17, 2011

the Rev. Silas G. Kessler

the Rev. Silas G. Kessler


The Rev. Silas G. Kessler, the senior former General Assembly moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), died Nov. 15 at the age of 100 in Hastings, Neb.

Kessler was moderator of the 1963 General Assembly of the former United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA).

A native of St. Louis, Mo., Kessler graduated from the University of Dubuque and the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Later, he returned to Dubuque and earned his Doctor of Divinity degree in 1941.

Following his graduation from seminary in 1934, Kessler served pastorates in Farmington, Iowa and Fullerton, Neb. In 1940 he was called to be pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hastings, where he served until his retirement in 1976. Following his retirement in 1976, Kessler went on to serve 15 interim pastorates.

During his tenure in Hastings, Kessler also served as president of the Nebraska Council of Churches, as a member of the board of trustees at Hastings College, as a member of the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation Board, and as the first elected moderator of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

In his community, Kessler was a member of Kiwanis for more than 35 years and served on the boards of the local Salvation Army and the Hastings Literacy Program.

Internationally, Kessler preached and taught in Chile, Egypt and Lebanon, among others.

In 1998 he was given the President’s Award by Hastings College, where he continued to serve as an honorary trustee until his death. In 2007, he was named the University of Dubuque’s Alumnus of Distinction.

Funeral arrangements for Silas G. Kessler are pending.

  1. I lived across the street from Dr. and Mis. Kessler from 1944 to 1957. These were my young and teenage years. We lived a blovk north of the Presbyterian Church and attended the church. I was married by Dr. Kessler. As kids we often played in their yard and in the house. I have many wonderful memories of attending sunday school, church and youth fellowship.

    by Sally Reeve Smith

    December 17, 2011

  2. Thank you, Dr. Kingshill, for reminding me of all those looked-forward-to visits you made at our house. Dad was impressed by your resiliency and your life's journey.

    by Stanley Richard Kessler

    November 26, 2011

  3. Dr. Kessler was already a well known legend in the Synod of Nebraska when I chose to go to Hastings College and attended First Presbyterian Church for worship. For four years I was blessed to hear sermons by one of America's great Presbyterian preachers. I taught a class of rambunctious junior high boys in the Sunday School and he was always encouraging. I never dreamed I would return to be the Head of Staff here. It was a humble and holy privilege to be with both Ruth and Si as they made their journeys' home. Eugene Petersen has a wonderful phrase which described them both, "a long obedience in the same direction." Lorraine Higgins, long time Christian Educator with Si, passed away just the day before. We Presbyterians have many saints of whom we should be very proud.

    by William G. Nottage-Tacey

    November 23, 2011

  4. Dr. Kessler was a lifelong friend and mentor. When I arrived in Hastings in 1941 as a refugee from Nazi Germany and as a survivor of a Nazi torpedo in the Atlantic, I stayed with the Marvel family for one year to fulfill an earlier exchange program. Dr. Kessler came to visit and I was introduced to him. This was something new, since in Germany pastoral visits were generally unknown. I joined First Presbyterian Church which eventually resulted in my work as missionary in Thailand for 41 years. I visited Si and Ruth Kessler frequently during ensuing furloughs.


    November 18, 2011