Cover photo for Merle Kersten's Obituary
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1925 Merle 2022

Merle Kersten

November 18, 1925 — March 5, 2022

Kiowa, KS

Merle Eugene Kersten

Merle Eugene Kersten, beloved son of Amos and Bertha Kersten, was born in Logan, Iowa on November 18, 1925 and went Home to his Lord on March 5, 2022 at the age of 96.

Born on a small farm in southwest Iowa, he left his farm roots to enlist in the ROTC program at Park College in Kansas City.  While in the ROTC, he met the love of his life, Billie Burgess Kersten.   He, and then Billie, transferred to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he completed his degree in civil engineering.  He served his country as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.  While awaiting overseas orders, he came back to Kiowa, to be married to Billie on her family farm.  He shipped out soon after that and was proud to serve the country that he loved.

His successful career as a civil engineer led him and his young family to Omaha, Nebraska and then back to Chicago, Illinois where he eventually became the vice president of Ceco Steel.  Regardless of the rigid work and travel schedule, he always made time for the family that he loved.

He was an outdoorsman and enjoyed fishing, and hunting.  After he retired from the steel industry, Merle and Billie left Naperville, Illinois and made their home in Kiowa (six months of the year) and resided in Ottertail Lake, Minnesota (the remainder of the year).  They enjoyed spending time with family in both venues as well as the time they were able to spend with Billie’s parents, Kan and Willa Burgess.  Both Billie and Merle were dedicated Christians, actively involved in the Congregational Church, and also had a sense of a strong community involvement.  They were the founders of the BorderLine Theatre.  Merle spent countless hours working on that endeavor to help create entertainment and an appreciation of the arts in the local area.  He was a gentleman, kind and friendly to all.  Throughout his life, he was a mentor to many.

Merle will always be remembered as an amazing and devoted father, grandfather, and great grandfather.  Though those memories will live on, he will be deeply missed by his children: Randy Kersten (Kathie), Dr. Jeri Mendelson (Bruce), Dr. Janet Gafford (Glenn), and Vanessa Kersten; nine grandchildren: Casey Kersten, Carrie Swartz (Willie), Chris Kersten (Hillary), Max Mendelson (Sato), Kansas Mendelson (Yayoi), Lauren Vasey, Kersten Bowers ((Matt), Kaeli Schmidt, and Nick Schmidt, and nine great grandchildren, Carson, Kersten, Cannen, and Kendall Swartz, Griffey  Kersten, Willy and Orion Mendelson, and Jeri and Ruth Mendelson.

The family is planning a memorial service and celebration of Merle’s life in June and arrangements are by Lanman Funeral Home, Inc. of Kiowa.  www.lanmanmemorials.com  Facebook: Lanman Funeral Home Inc.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Kiowa Congregational Church or the Kiowa Manor through the funeral home.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Merle Kersten, please visit our flower store.

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