Heaven needed a Marine
I met John Kiesling shortly after moving to southern Illinois in 2004. I work with Mr. Kiesling’s son Mark but attended church with Mark’s parents. I remember Mr. Kiesling proudly introducing himself to me and my wife, shaking our hands and welcoming us to the First United Methodist Church of Carterville with a warm smile.
Last week Mr. Kiesling passed away. As I stood in line at the visitation and chatted with people I’d never met before I was reminded of what kind of impact Mr. Kiesling had on our community.
When I was a Cub Master for my boys’ Cub Scout Pack, I turned to Mr.Kiesling for leadership advice. He and his wife Doris had both been leaders in our Pack when their own sons were going through the scouting program. He shared valuable insight into the role and the ideas of what worked for him translated well decades later. I was happy when the Kieslings joined us at our annual Blue & Gold Banquet that celebrated the legacy and history of our Pack.
Mr. Kiesling proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. Just last year, he and Mark traveled to Washington, D.C. on the first ever Honor Flight of Southern Illinois. I was at the Veterans Memorial Airport in Marion when the vets and their guardians returned that night. The image of Mrs. Kiesling welcoming her husband home with a big kiss is something I’ll never forget. Exhaustion from a full day of visiting monuments and memorials seemed to fade away when he and the other veterans saw the homecoming.
In fall 2016 I ran in the Old Glory Relay. As the stars and stripes reached Carterville, Mr. Kiesling was there to proudly accept the flag and walk with it along with Mark. It was another moment I could sense the love of country the Kiesling family has.
Besides serving his country, Mr. Kiesling served his community well too. He was an active member of the Rotary Club, the FUMC choir and volunteered at Gum Drops, a program that provides food to children in need when they’re not in school. All of these groups, just like southern Illinois are much better off having known Mr. Kiesling. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.
I'm a former TV news guy turned marketing manager. I like to blog, podcast and watch pro wrestling.