Landscapes 12

John Howard Kessel

October 13, 1928 ~ January 28, 2019 (age 90)


John Howard Kessel, 90, passed away on January 28, 2019.  He was born on Oct. 13, 1928 in Dayton, Ohio to Arthur V. and Helen (Hopkins) Kessel.  He is preceded in death by his sister and brother-in-law, the Rev. John and Jean Carson of Hillsboro, OH.  He is survived by his wife Margaret Sarah (Wagner) Kessel, his sons Robert (Mona) and Thomas, grandchildren Sarah, Ellen, and Jonathan (Bria), and great-granddaughter Adalynn Rae. 

He attended Purdue University and OSU, where he received his B.A. degree in 1950.  He was as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, seeing action on a destroyer minesweeper, The USS Carmick.  He obtained a PhD in political science from Columbia University in 1958.  He taught at Mt. Holyoke College, Amherst College, the University of Washington, and Allegheny College before joining The Ohio State University in 1970.  He was a visiting professor at the University of California San Diego, University of Washington, and American University.  He was a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and the Republican National Committee.  He served as editor of the American Journal of Political Science and president of the Midwest Political Science Association.  His research was supported by National Science Foundation grants. An expert on the American presidency and presidential campaign politics, he authored scholarly books and numerous articles in leading political science journals.  

John had a lifelong love of learning, reading, keeping in touch with former students and colleagues, playing tennis, home gardening, travelling, and being with his family.  He passed away peacefully in his own bedroom, with his best friend, the love of his life, Margaret at his side – winner!

 The family wishes to thank the people who helped in John’s home care for their skills and kindness, and especially his nurse Laurie from Wesley Hospice for her grace, class, and good humor.

 In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution in the name of John Kessel to the OSU College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Fund (#312966) at the Ohio State University Foundation, 1480 W. Lane Ave., Columbus, OH 43221, online at, or call 614-292-2141.

Services will be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 30 W. Woodruff Ave. (OSU campus), Columbus, OH 43210 at 11 AM on Feb. 16, 2019.  Services will be overseen by the Rev. Mary Carson of Cincinnati.


I want to thank Prof. Herb Weisberg for his skills and editing in putting this together.  I could not have done it without him.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Howard Kessel, please visit our floral store.


Funeral Service
February 16, 2019

11:00 AM
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
30 W. Woodruff Ave. (OSU campus)
Columbus, OH 43210

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