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Billie Joe Kessinger


Billie Joe Kessinger

Billie Joe Kessinger, Sr. was born April 5, 1928 in Texas and passed Feb. 3, 2017 in Newberg, Oregon. His early years consisted of hard work with little pay: helping his grandpa hauling watermelons to town by wagons and working in the flour mills were only a couple of the stories he told. He heard of a position at the J. Neils Lumber Mill in Klickitat and journeyed by train to Rowena, Oregon, then rode the ferry across the Columbia River to Lyle, Washington. He told of a lady picking him up at the ferry and rushing to Klickitat so they wouldn't be late. He said the road wasn't paved then and was full of pot holes and ruts-he was just sure she was going to get them both killed before he even worked his first shift.

B.J. first met Betty at the White House Café and Bus Depot in Bingen and they were married on June 26, 1948. They were married almost 62 years and had three children: Joe, wife Renee; Chuck, wife Sharon; and Sue, husband Daryl. They have 10 grandchildren, plus their spouses, 22 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother John Kessinger and preceded in death by his parents, wife Betty, brother Glen, daughter-in-law Kristy and great-grandson Dylon.

The family built their home on Skookum Flat Road in 1962, building as they could afford the material. Blankets and sheets separated rooms when the family moved in. He worked as a chain puller, a carrier driver, a supervisor seeing the company through many changes and names-J. Neils, St. Regis-and retiring shortly before Champion International. BJ and Betty retired together in 1986 on the same day.

Many good times are remembered by family and friends with BJ, from ballgames, boating and hunting to fishing and camping. His son Joe says when they did these fun family events, the neighborhood kids usually went along. He enjoyed snowmobiling the Mt. Adams country, along with a trip to Yellowstone or going to eastern Oregon. Dad also enjoyed going on vacation with the family and people that he worked with. Just one of his favorites was the Alaskan road trip with his friends from work. Both Mom and Dad loved going to Westport, Washington to dig clams and salmon fish. The Kessingers were well known for their participation in timber carnivals around the country. He enjoyed the competition of double buck and ax throw with and against his own family. He was always willing to help anyone who needed help with any project.

Dad loved working in the yard and garden-growing tomatoes, potatoes and onions-and he would help his kids grow their gardens. He enjoyed working with his hands and built rock tables, fishing poles and gun stocks.

He loved the outdoors, meeting new people and making new memories. He loved life. People who knew our Dad-our Grandpa-know that he will be missed by us all.

A memorial service for B.J. Kessinger, Sr. will be March 11 at 1 p.m., Gardner Funeral Home in White Salmon. Condolences to the family may be sent by visiting


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