Kessler Family Strengthens Catholic Legacy in Emporia

"We know that by setting up this endowed fund the mission of Sacred Heart will be carried out for many years to come." Jim and Kathy Kessler, Sacred Heart, Emporia

KesslerJim Kessler and Kathy Keegan grew up in Gardner, Kansas. Jim's family lived in town while Kathy grew up on a farm outside of town. High school sweethearts at Gardner High School, they both later attended Emporia State University (Kansas Teachers College at the time). Jim and Kathy married in 1972, graduated from college in 1974, and settled down in Emporia.

Their faith led them to be active in the Emporia community and as parishioners of Sacred Heart. Over the years they were invited to help with an effort to create and grow endowments for the parish, school and cemetery.

When Jim sold his share of the heating and cooling business where he had worked since leaving college, he and Kathy wanted to do their part to contribute to the legacy of faith that was so important to their family. This led them to create the Jim and Kathy Kessler Family Endowment Fund, whose income will provide perpetual financial support for Sacred Heart Parish and Cemetery.

"This new fund is a natural continuation of the Kessler's ongoing life of service to the Church. Their example of faithful stewardship will benefit the Catholic family of Sacred Heart long into the future, and hopefully will serve as inspiration for others to leave legacy gifts," said Sacred Heart Pastor, Fr. Brandon Farrar.

Their story as told by Jim:

"While in college we attended Mass at the college and continued going there a few years after graduation. During my years of college I was training to be a salesman for Cramer Products in Gardner, but in my senior year the Cramer family sold to another company and the new company didn't have a position for me. We had always envisioned that we would move back to the Kansas City area after graduation. We had some friends that knew of a heating and air conditioning company that was looking for a bookkeeper so I applied and got the job. Again, we thought that I would do that job for a couple of years, get some experience, and move back to Kansas City, but we grew to love Emporia.

The owners of Modern Air Conditioning let me buy a little stock periodically, and eventually I purchased the majority of the stock, with partners, in the mid 1990's. We were fortunate to have good partners, employees, and customers and built a fairly successful business. In 2017 we sold our stock to my other partners and retired. These same friends that suggested I look at this heating and air company also attended Sacred Heart Church here in Emporia, their kids attended Sacred Heart School, so we signed up to become members. After my junior year at ESU I was looking for a business internship as I was a business major. The cemetery committee at Sacred Heart was looking for someone to straighten out the records for the cemetery because they were in shambles, so that's what I did for the internship. This was before computers and spread sheets were easily accessible so I created a three card cross index file and got all of the records reorganized. I was also responsible for selling new lots and marking out graves for people that died. I continued this job for about 27 years after the internship was over.

Our son Clint was born in 1975 and was baptized by Father George Seuferling on campus. Our second son Brett was born in 1977, daughter Traci in 1981, and daughter Abbey in 1983. All four kids were baptized at Sacred Heart and later attended Sacred Heart School. Kathy and I taught Marriage Preparation classes for about 25 years, giving that ministry up a few years ago with the thought that young, engaged couples could relate better to someone else closer to their own age. I was on the school board for about eight years when the kids were in school, and served as president for a couple of terms. Kathy served on the school council just a few years ago. I've been a member of the Knights of Columbus for 39 years. Kathy has been a member of the Altar Society for many years. All of this history with Sacred Heart is a testimony of our belief in Sacred Heart and an appreciation of all that the community has given us these many years.

Our history and experiences in Emporia, Sacred Heart, and the success of our business that we attribute to the community we served, are the reasons that we have decided to give back to Sacred Heart Church in Emporia. Our philosophy has always been "what goes around, comes around" if you treat people with respect, kindness, and give back, it will come back to you many times over. We know that by setting up this endowed fund the mission of Sacred Heart will be carried out for many years to come."