Part 12, Final in series on Wallace Dwight Kessel

By Ralphine Major

He has led a full and varied life.  Knox County’s first County Executive was very active in his church.    A member of First Baptist Church Knoxville, Dwight Kessel was elected deacon in 1978, served as trustee for 15 years, was a member of the ushering and welcoming committee for 21 years, and taught a Sunday School class for 20 years.  As a former member of Church Street United Methodist Church, he served as Sunday School Superintendent and taught Sunday School for ten years.  He served on the WORD for Living Board (Dr. Ferguson’s Radio & TV Program).

Kessel was a member of the first Leadership Knoxville Class in 1985.  He served in many capacities in several professional organizations including City Salesman’s Club (41 years), Metropolitan Planning Organization, National Association of Counties, and The Downtown Organization.  Community Activities included the Kiwanis Club, Better Business Bureau of Greater Knoxville/East Tennessee, Serene Manor Medical Center, World’s Fair – Expo 82, Tennessee Valley Fair Association, American Legion Knoxville Post 2, Greater Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, Knoxville Tourist Bureau, and Knox County Juvenile Court Advisory Board.  The former Knox County Executive’s Agency Work included YMCA of Metropolitan Knoxville, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, Knoxville Hall of Fame, Heart Association, Boy Scouts of America – Great Smoky Mountain Council, United Way of Greater Knoxville, Interfaith Health Clinic, and National Conference of Christians & Jews (National Conference).

The Knoxville politician from West Virginia reflects on his life:

“My experiences have taught me that the most important thing in life is to be willing to take a stand on what you think is right.  Not every person and/or situation is positive.  Most people I met in politics and in businesses wanted to win big, but I always felt the important thing was to win.  There are situations in which there is the possibility of negotiation or compromise but some require a firm stand.  Try to get all the information you can to make a good decision and then stick with it.  This is a quote that I thought was worth saving, ‘Have a positive attitude.  It’s not about what happens in your life, it’s about how you react to it.’

“I have enjoyed a good life.  I can’t say enough positive things about my family.  I have a great wife, great children, great grandchildren and great great-grandchildren.  To this day, we still get together almost every week to dine and visit and once a year for a family vacation.  Whatever my job, I enjoyed great employees, many of whom I see on a regular basis.  I hope to be remembered as someone who was thoughtful, kind, and considerate of others.  When all is said and done, I feel like the Lord was looking after me and had more to do with what happened to me than I was ever aware.”

Words of Faith: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits.” Psalm 68:19 (KJV)