FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, dozens of police cruisers and ambulances surrounded the Fayette County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial honoring former Sheriff Steve Kessler.
Kessler, 60, died suddenly on August 23 after being stung by several bees while mowing his lawn. The sudden loss of the recently appointed Fayette County circuit clerk sent shock waves through West Virginia. Despite this, the mood of the crowd gathered outside was light-hearted. Emergency responders and locals alike could be overheard sharing positive stories of Kessler’s kind-hearted and loving nature.
Jan-Care Ambulance Vice-President Todd Cornett knew Kessler for several years. In addition to working with him as a fellow emergency responder, they served together on the Fayette County 911 Advisory Board.
“He loved the community, he was a public servant for his entire life. If Steve told you something you could be sure it was gonna happen.”
Kessler’s love for the community was reflected by the number of police cruisers and ambulances lined up along Maple Avenue. Several vehicles each from West Virginia State Police, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, Fayetteville Police, Oak Hill Police and Jan Care Ambulance sat in two rows waiting for the post-ceremony procession.
Lousie Powell attended Mount Hope High School with Kessler. She later knew him when he became a Mount Hope police officer. She also taught one of his daughters in school. Powell fought tears while describing her longtime friend.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that I’ve ever heard that didn’t like Steve. He was such a great guy, and he will be missed.”
In a recent interview with MetroNews affiliate WJLS, Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley admitted the sudden passing hasn’t been easy for his department. He was impressed by the outpouring of support from other law enforcement agencies and communities throughout West Virginia.
“It’s a big loss to Fayette County, a big loss to me and a big loss to his family,” said Fridley. “The next few days are going to be tough for us here at the office and for the community. My prayers go out to his family because they’re going through a rough time.”
Following the funeral was a procession to Kessler’s burial site in Mount Hope. A convoy consisting of dozens of emergency vehicles took Kessler down U.S. Route 19 for the last time.