Clarence D. Kessler

March 11, 2021

Obituary Image


Another cowboy has come to the pasture, liked it and stayed… 

Clarence Dominic Kessler was born November 1, 1937 to Peter and Magdalena (Usselman) Kessler at Mina, SD.  He started school at a country school near Mina but when he was ten years old the family moved to Aberdeen where he attended St. Mary’s Catholic School. 

As a youngster, he would spend weekends working on a farm.  As a young man he continued to work on the Kessler Ranch.  During those years he gained a love for horses.  A love that would later lead him to raise World Championship Show winning Quarter Horses. 

He bought a farm in 1962 and married Marlene Janice Hettich of Roscoe on October 24, 1963.  They lived on the farm where Clarence became a jack of all trades.  He ran a dairy operation, raised beef cattle and continued to refine his stable of horses.  His work raising horses was respected across the nation, with buyers visiting the farm from nearly every state in hopes of owning one of his horses.  Clarence never enjoyed being in the spotlight, instead he quietly built his reputation amongst horse show faithful. 

Being tied to the land as a hard working rancher, there was little time for outside activities, but he did manage to take his family on just one family vacation to Garden City, Kansas.  A trip that is fondly recalled by his children. He was an active member of the American Quarter Horse Association, Leola Trail Riders (where he was famous for taking mud bath) and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. 

Ten years ago, Clarence suffered a traumatic brain injury in a four-wheeler accident and his life was forever changed.  His abilities were limited but he held true to the cowboy way and never left the ranch. 

Left to grieve his passing are his wife, Marlene; daughters, Kim Merkel of Ellendale, ND and Lynn (Stephan) Wright of Houghton, SD; sons, Jim (Judy Ketchersid) Kessler of Mobridge and Tim Kessler of Leola; sisters, Delores Schumacher of Aberdeen and Mary Ann Kight of Mitchell; brother, Melvin (Virginia) Kessler of Leola; thirteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. 

His parents; brothers Harold and Anthony (Tony); sisters, Elvina Fossum and Dorothy Fettig and granddaughter, Katie Wright, preceded him in death. 

Public visitation will be from 5-7:00 PM Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at Gramm Funeral Home in Ipswich. 

Clarence will be interred privately in the Kessler family plot at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Aberdeen. 

Memories may be shared with his family at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Clarence D. Kessler, please visit our floral store.


March 16, 2021

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Gramm Funeral Home
720 N. 6th Street
Ipswich, SD 57451

Private Committal

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