Jack Allen Kesler passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 27, at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, after a brief hospital stay.
Jack found success and happiness by remaining true to himself throughout his 93 years. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt, fish, and play golf; a successful businessman with an abundance of common sense and a keen eye for value; and a proud member of the U.S. Marine Corps. He lived his entire adult life at the center of a loving family with his Speedway High School sweetheart and wife of 68 years, Jacqueline R. ""Jacque"" Kesler.
Jack's love of a good story - with his twinkling blue eyes, mischievous grin, and Santa-like laugh will be missed.
Jack was co-owner, along with Jacque, of Kesler-Schaefer Auto Auction (KSAA), a wholesale automobile auction established in Indianapolis in 1943 by Jacque's father, Ken Schaefer. Jack and Jacque were given the ""Pioneer Award"" in 2013 by the National Auto Auction Association for their years of service to the industry. Today the business is run by their son Steve Kesler as its President.
A longtime buyer and seller of residential and commercial real estate, Jack was also President and owner of J & J Investments I, LLC, which he ran with the assistance of Jacque and their daughter Lannie Kesler Thompson, often in collaboration with Fabricio Perez and Carla Flores of Perez Realty Group. J & J started years ago with Jack's occasionally helping KSAA customers buy car lots and homes. Jack and Jacque operated it from their kitchen table, which Jack referred to as J & J's ""world headquarters."" A property at a time, J & J has become a thriving concern that has provided affordable housing for a number of families across central Indiana.
Jack was a member of the Country Club of Indianapolis (CCI) and Quail West Golf and Country Club in Naples, Florida. He served on CCI's Board of Directors and was Board President from 1976 – 1977. He was a recipient of CCI's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Jack always enjoyed a competitive golf game with his buddies, and he loved making his ""points."" He had seven holes-in-one, including one in a charity event at Quail West that won him and Jacque their membership there.
Jack joined the Junto of Indianapolis in 1960. He served as the organization's President in 1979 and was named an Emeritus Member in 2004. He was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana Gov. Robert D. Orr in 1983 and was cited as a 50-year member of the Scottish Rite as Master Mason in 2010.
Jack is survived by his wife Jacqueline R. ""Jacque"" Kesler and their sons Dr. Kenneth A. Kesler and Stephen J. Kesler (Mary Ann), and daughter Alayne K. ""Lannie"" Thompson (John); and their grandchildren, who gave Jack great joy: Christi Kesler Ulery (Doug), Matthew S. Kesler, Brian N. Shoaf, Jacqueline ""Jackie"" Thompson Richwalski (Bart), and Jean Louise Thompson; and his great-grandchildren Liam, Sam, and Emmalyn Shoaf.
Jack was born December 14, 1927, in Lebanon, Indiana. His parents were Dorothy (Davis) and Kenneth Walker. When Jack was very young, his birth father passed away and his mother married Floyd Kesler, whom Jack called his father. He remained close, however, with his ""Grandpa Walker,"" whom Jack credited with teaching him many life lessons.
When Jack was in first grade, his family moved to Speedway. Jack's childhood memories included rabbit hunting on the railroad tracks on the way home from school – not as much for sport, but for food on the table – and working at American Art and Clay, where he made chalk, coming home every night covered in different-colored chalk dust. According to Jack, he had to quit that job because he couldn't afford to replace his ruined clothes.
He graduated from Speedway High School in 1945. If asked, Jack would tell you he ranked 28th in his senior class at Speedway – in a class of 30! – but that Jacque was #2. At Speedway he excelled in basketball and football, playing quarterback on its six-man team. After high school, Jack played American Legion baseball for a team sponsored by the White Front Tavern in Whitestown, which his father bought in 1946.
Jack attended Butler University on a basketball scholarship. He left Butler to enlist as a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a Paymaster Clerk at Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois until his honorable discharge in the fall of 1947. He re-enlisted in 1950, trained at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, and was on a ship bound for active duty in the Korean War when his appendix burst and he was sent to Guantanamo Bay to recover, and then was again honorably discharged in 1951 as a Sergeant.
Years later, Jack demonstrated his dedication to the Marines by helping the Indianapolis Marine Corp League secure a new building. He was also instrumental in setting up a distinctive license plate benefiting Hoosier Marine Veterans, and in helping facilitate the Wounded Warriors' visit to Indianapolis for the 2012 Super Bowl.
The Kesler family thanks Jack's friends – particularly those from KSAA and CCI – who have played such an important part in his life. The family is also grateful for the excellent care provided by Dr. Michael Busk and Dianne Murphy of the St. Vincent Health, Wellness and Preventive Care Institute; and by Dr. Richard Kovacs of IU Health Cardiology. Thanks also to Jack's recent caregivers Julie Potter and Stephanie Anderson; Kerry Alcos of ComForCare; and Blessing Korrie and Sadie Simmons of Senior Home Companions. And, finally, the family appreciates the kindness of the staff at Boathouse Grill of Indianapolis and Green Street Pub and Flap Jack's Pancake House of Brownsburg.
Visitation will be held at Stevens Mortuary at 5520 West 10th Street, Indianapolis, on Thursday, March 4, 3 to 7 pm, in adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. A private family service will be held on Friday, March 5, at Crown Hill Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to First Tee – Indiana in Indianapolis (http://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/WAe2CVO2XPh25VqjAUGutdN?domain=indianagolf.org
), which offers scholarships to Indianapolis children on a need basis to participate in First Tee golf classes.