Dale Newton Kesner, age 80, a resident of Little Rock, Arkansas died peacefully in the arms of his Lord and Savior on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, at the Arkansas State Veterans Home in North Little Rock surrounded by family and friends.
Dale was born in Kingston, Arkansas on July 25, 1938, to Loyd Newton Kesner and Ruth Jane (Smelley) Kesner.
He is survived by his loving wife of 31 years, Wanda Kesner of Little Rock.; sister Louise Tharp (Don) of Berryville, Arkansas; one son and a daughter by his first marriage, Daloyd Craig Kesner (Candy) of Green Forest, Arkansas and Danita Diane Kesner Hill (Charlie) of Overland Park, Kansas; daughters Kandi Knod West (Lance) of Little Rock and Kim Knod Parr (Forrest) of Conway, Arkansas; seven grandchildren, Curtis Dale Kesner (Jessica), Christopher Craig Kesner (Jerika), Scott Garrett-Wyman Hill (Taylor), Sarah Jane Abbott (Matthew), Lowery West, Annie West and Tristen Parr; five great grandchildren, Roy Kesner (6), Dylan Kesner (5), Emerson Hill (3), Sullivan Hill (1), Caroline Kesner; and a host of friends and relatives.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Loyd and Ruth Kesner; his sister, Hazel Youngblood and her husband Dale; their daughter, Joy Youngblood Webb; and an infant sister, Ina Belle Kesner.
Dale was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock and a former member of the First Baptist Church in De Queen.
Dale spent his earliest years in Kingston, Arkansas. The family relocated to Berryville, Arkansas when he began school. He and his two siblings, Hazel & Louise spent many happy days playing jokes on one another. Dale was the ultimate prankster and his positivity and loving charm enchanted all he knew with a bit of torment to his baby sister Louise. He loved and played multiple sports throughout school and later in life would share with his grandchildren to remember that “sports were 90% heart and 10% ability”. He was a great encourager and lived his life applying that motto to his own activities, leading with his heart.
In 1957, Dale joined the U.S. Army and proudly served his country for twenty-two years. His ports of call included Texas, Germany, Indiana, New Mexico and Kansas. He served in Da-Nang Vietnam for 18 months beginning in 1968 supervising more than 32 personnel for Military Assistance Command. Retiring from active duty July 27, 1979, at Fort Riley, Kansas he was the youngest person ever appointed to Warrant Officer 4, with his MOS number. This was a special appointment that required approval from the Department of Defense in order to move forward.
During his military service, Dale received multiple awards and commendations including the Vietnam Service Medal, the Bronze Star Meritorious Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Joint Services Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. Prior to his retirement he served as the Chief of Computer Operations for a major military command and developed detailed plans and instructions for the tactical air deployment of the entire computer complex to Europe in support of major NATO exercises. He gained the respect of his superior officers for his ability to develop, implement and manage highly cost effective, innovative and productive ADP processes. Those who served under him or worked with him often commented on his ability to get the job done but make all feel welcome and appreciated.
He truly enjoyed working with young people and gave back to the community by being actively involved in coaching football for DODDS children and encouraging them to do their best or teaching a high school or college Sunday school class. The overall theme surrounding almost everything he did outside of work was laughter and silly fun.
After military retirement, Dale worked for the Kansas Secretary of State’s office in Topeka, Kansas and Sperry Univac in Springfield, Missouri. He relocated to Green Forest, Arkansas in 1985. He moved to De Queen, Arkansas in 1987. There he was a popular teacher at Cossatot Community College, where he taught computer science and inspired many young people. In 2003 he was elected Mayor of De Queen where he served that community until his retirement in 2004.
In 2004 he and Wanda relocated to Conway, Arkansas, and subsequently to Little Rock, Arkansas, to be nearer to some of his grandchildren and their activities. His grandchildren have many fond memories of their “Pop Pop” including his silly jokes (that often didn’t make a lot of sense, but made them giggle), his encouragement, (“Pop Pop loves you”), he always told them how proud he was of them, his silly nicknames, (“Rocket 44”, “Miss Lowery”, “Miss Annie” and “Miss Sarah Jane”), and teaching them that no matter what, pressing on was what was important in life.
He became an ordained minister in 1956 and utilized his faith as a guiding principle throughout his life. He was a prolific encourager to his children teaching them about faith, life and perseverance.
When his own father died in 1983, he gave a eulogy that seems fitting for him as well:
“Thanks, dad, for the lessons in courage, understanding and love of life. Thanks for the wonderful memories of joy and happiness. Thanks for the unselfish sacrifices of time, money and your own personal desires, so that we might enjoy for a few moments, the pleasures of a single event or happening. Thanks for your untiring words of instruction and correction, not given with demands, but simply given out of your best experiences and a loving concern for our welfare. Thanks for the many moments of laughter and stories which brightened our days and removed some of life’s pressures. Thanks for the many times you stepped in and took the brunt of a blow that should have been ours to endure. Thanks for being a beautiful example for us to follow, thinking not of yourself, but always of others. Thanks dad.”
Dale Kesner was loved in life by many and will be greatly missed in death. A special thanks to the nursing and hospice staff at the Arkansas State Veterans Home in North Little Rock for their care and loving support
Funeral Services for Mr. Kesner will be held at 2:00 p.m., Monday, July 22, 2019, in Wilkerson Funeral Home Chapel in De Queen with Rev. Wayne King officiating. Burial will follow in Millwee Cemetery with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, those who might wish to do so, may make a donation in his memory to the Arkansas State Veterans Home
The family will receive friends from 2:00-4:00 p.m., Sunday, July 21st at the funeral home.
You may leave a condolence at www.wilkersonfuneralhomes.com