World War II Army paratrooper from Roanoke dies at 98

John Kessler also served as Grand Marshal of Roanoke’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2012

ROANOKE, Va. – Another member of the Greatest Generation has passed away.

John Kessler, a Roanoke native who served as a paratrooper with the Army in World War II, died on Tuesday. He was 98 years old.

According to his obituary, Kessler earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star during his service. He returned to Roanoke after WWII, and worked as a printer with the Roanoke Times for more than 30 years.

Kessler often talked about his service in later years, and served as the Grand Marshal of Roanoke’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2012.

Bernard Marie, a friend of Kessler’s who organizes an annual dinner for WWII veterans, says Kessler’s death is a reminder his generation is fading away.

“They are all over 90 years old now," said Marie. "I think the youngest one that we have is 92.”

Marie remembered Kessler as a kindhearted man who everyone loved to be around. He said he will do his best to honor Kessler’s legacy, now that he is gone.

“John was certainly the guy who said, ‘World War II veterans need to tell people what we did,’" said Marie. "I will miss him, that’s for sure.”

Kessler’s visitation will happen on Saturday, with his funeral following on Sunday. His funeral service information can be found here.

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