Ann Kessel, a community leader known for her generosity, passed away last week in Florida.
She was 80.
She had been involved with the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, the YWCA Bradford, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Bradford Hospital Foundation and many more organizations.
“We were so sorry to hear of the passing of Ann Kessel, a dear friend to Pitt-Bradford,” said Dr. Catherine Koverola, Pitt-Bradford’s president. “For many years, Ann, along with her husband, Dick, was a steadfast and generous supporter of our campus, which led to our naming the athletic complex in their honor.”
The Kessel Athletic Complex on Campus Drive in Bradford has space for baseball, softball, soccer and tennis.
Koverola continued, describing Kessel’s generosity.
“Ann had a simple yet poignant philosophy when it came to giving: The community had been good to her and her husband, and she wanted to give back,” the president said.
“They established two scholarships and contributed to several other funds, which ultimately helped to ease the financial burden of many of our students over the years. For the past 13 years, many people in the community have participated in the Kessel Klassic, a popular golf outing Ann and Dick created in 2006. All proceeds from that event benefit the Jeffrey Brian Kessel Memorial Scholarship, which they established in honor of their cousin,” she said. “Ann also was a valued member of our Advisory Board, lending us her wise counsel since 2000.”
Her legacy will live on at the YWCA Bradford as well.
Vanessa Castano, executive director, explained, “Ann Kessel was the YWCA’s Distinguished Woman Leader of the Year in 2004. As a leader in the community, Ann personified the values of the YWCA and our mission, and was most deserving of this honor. Over the years she was a stalwart supporter and champion of our activities and programs, and did not hesitate to give her time and energy to improve our community.
“I was recently told that Ann even had her wedding reception at the YWCA,” Castano said. “Her generosity and spirit cannot be understated; she simply made Bradford better.”
YWCA board member Jeanie Satterwhite shared a few memories of her friend.
“Among the memorable stories within the annals of the YWCA history is one Ann conveyed at an annual YW Leadership Lunch about her mother, the leader in her life, who found it necessary to migrate from a struggling and jobless Sweden to America at the age of 17 — all alone.
“Ann felt that she could not shrink from whatever adversity she would face in life because of the courage, determination and wisdom her mother’s example held before her, and the life she was able to live because of it,” Satterwhite said.
“Ann became an astute business woman, a civic leader and a friend to many,” she continued. “But most of all she was a loving wife, mother and grandmother, who oft’ spoke of that role at the hearth as the most fulfilling aspect of her grateful and very exemplary life.”
Another aspect of her life that will long be remembered is her generosity with her time and expertise.
Francie Ambuske, executive director of the Bradford Hospital Foundation, remembered Kessel with fondness and admiration.
“She’s been a wonderfully generous community leader and has demonstrated very generous gifting to Bradford hospital over the years,” Ambuske said, adding that Kessel also served on the board of the foundation. Prior to the existence of the foundation, she was active with the hospital’s auxiliary.
Ambuske mentioned Kessel’s “sincere love for the community and her desire to see advancement for the hospital and for the community.”
She and her husband, Dick, have been “wonderfully supportive of the hospital during its last several decades,” Ambuske said, mentioning it has been a difficult time for rural healthcare, and people like the Kessels made a dramatic difference with their support.
“If there would be a new approach or a new campaign” to raise funds, Ann Kessel “was the first one to give,” Ambuske continued.
She said the foundation has named funds, where donations can be made in someone’s honor. Kessel was instrumental in growing those funds. “She would reach out to her friends and colleagues to help garner this support.
“Hers was an unconditional love and regard for the community. She was just a very, very dear woman and she will certainly be missed.”