Hilbert V. Kiesel of Fort Myers, FL left us to join Our Lord on October 21, 2007, he was 90 years of age. The son of Charles and Lillian Kiesel, he was born in New York State and moved to Fort Myers in 1950. He, his brothers, and extended family members became pioneers in the fledgling shrimp business at Fort Myers Beach. By the end of his working career he had shrimp boats and associated businesses at Fort Myers Beach, FL, Biloxi, MS and Aransas Pass, TX.
Hilbert retired and continued his love of the water, travel and helping others by joining the Royal Palm Yacht Club. During this time he was Fleet Captain for many years. He directed and led many cruises for the Club. Each year he and Dorothy would host the annual, never to be forgotten, "Kiesel Shack Party". During his "watch" the "Atta Boy" award was established, and is his in perpetuity. This award is given annually to the Captain in the Club, who has done the most to help other boaters.
A founding member of Saint Cecilia's Catholic Church, Hilbert has passed the legacy of his faith to the fourth generation of his family. He now proudly watches his grandchildren and great-grandchildren attend masses. Hilbert and his wife, Dorothy, received communion several times a week and prayed together daily. He and his brothers were Charter members and now lifetime honorary members of the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus. He has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for over 50 years. Hilbert felt privileged to attend his son, Hilbert D. Kiesel's initiation into the 4th Degree. A sportsman and hunter all his life he is an honorary lifetime member of the South Shore Marlin and Tuna Club and the Babylon Tuna Club. Hilbert has hunted and fished with his sons and grandchildren all over this country, the Bahamian and Pacific waters, and is a world class record holder in some categories. Since age 60 he has enjoyed many trips as a certified PADI diver.
During World War II Hilbert proudly served in the U.S. Navy. He was a member to the crew of the USS Benjamin Franklin "the ship that wouldn't die". While aboard it was bombed by Japanese aircraft, split in half, and towed to shore in two pieces. Since that time he has been a proud member of the "Survivors of the Franklin". I quote from Dad, "damaged by a Kamikaze in October 1944 and by bombs in March 1945, "Big Ben" paid the highest price in lives among those lost on carriers in WWII. She is primarily remembered for the heroism of her crew in saving the lives of shipmates."
Following the "Big One", Dad became a member of the VFW and American Legion.
A familiar figure at many of the area sports fields he proudly followed the progress of his 7 grandchildren as they made their mark on many of the various teams at Bishop Verot and Fort Myers High Schools. During the last 10 years of his daughter, Dorothy's teaching career, Hilbert was "Grandpa Kiesel" to her students. While volunteering in her classroom he would read and tell stories, listen to the children read and spend individual time with some. The classes all looked forward to Grandpa's visits. He often brought treats and on Earth Day brought each child a Norfolk Pine to take home and plant.
Leaving behind to cherish his memory are his three children, Dorothy Lillian Kiesel Poll (George) of Fort Myers, FL and Franklin, NC, Hilbert D. Kiesel (Alene) of Franklin, NC and Thomas F. Kiesel (Ruth) of Fort Myers, FL. Grandchildren, Kristen O'Halloran (Sean), Conrad F. Kiesel, Hillary Kiesel, Jarrett Kiesel (Kim) and Shannon Dorsey (David). Six great-grandchildren whom have brought an inordinate amount of joy into his life. Brother, Charles "Scoop" Kiesel (Lenora), sister, Lillian Wang, sisters in law, Joan Kiesel, Cecilia Kiesel, Linn Rohl, Ann Rohl and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to Julia Woolbright, longtime friend, companion and caregiver. Dad's caregiver Kashima Alexander showed her love and concern in many ways. Hope Hospice and their wonderful staff will always be in our thoughts and prayers. Their help and caring attitudes were invaluable to the family.
Hilbert is now in the presence of his beloved wife of 68 years, Dorothy; brothers, Donald Kiesel, George Kiesel, brothers-in-law, Ted Wang, Henry Rohl and the Honorable Kenneth Rohl all of whom preceded him into Heaven.
Arrangements to be made by Harvey-Engelhardt-Metz Funeral Home.
Due to our appreciation for the overwhelming response of compassion and sympathy extended towards the family at the recent passing of our Mother, Dorothy Elizabeth Kiesel, the services for our father will be private. We know they will be in the thoughts and prayers of many. Those who wish to honor Dad's memory may make donations to Hope Hospice, 9470 Healthpark Circle, Fort Myers, FL 33908.
A fitting epitaph to our Dad would be, "A Parable to Immortality" by Henry VanDyke.
"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sail to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There she goes!" Gone where? Gone from my sight? that is all. She is just as large in mast and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There she goes!" There are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
Published in The News-Press from Oct. 23 to Oct. 24, 2007.