John Melroy Kestell, 81, passed away on May 7, 2019; peacefully in his sleep, at home, which was what he wanted.
John was born in Rhine Center, Wisconsin, to Helen and Melroy Kestell, the oldest child of 13 children, on May 21, 1937. Raised on a dairy farm and educated in a one-room schoolhouse, he was proud of his family and farm heritage.
He attended high school in Plymouth, Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He finished his bachelor’s and master’s degrees after working for the newspapers in the Twin Cities and Las Vegas and becoming sober after many years of alcohol abuse. His education was something he always referred to as “the 20-year plan.” As an addiction counselor he helped others working in Darlington, Wisconsin as the clinical director at Rimrock in Billings; and in private practice in Kalispell, busy in a career of over 30 years. He also fought to prevent the legalization of gambling in Montana.
John grew award-winning dahlias for over 50 years and loved his friends in the Montana Dahlia Society. He showed his dahlias annually at the Northwest Montana Fair and the Kalispell Mall show. His favorite place was his garden and spending time with his horses and pets. He was also a loyal Chicago Cubs fan who watched all the games on Major League Baseball and reveled in their winning of the World Series. John was a handsome, charismatic man who was fun to be around and had a great sense of humor. In the summer, he enjoyed tooling around in his classic 1950 Ford. Each fall and winter he routed for the Green Bay Packers.
John was extremely close to his family and enjoyed visiting them in Wisconsin but loved living in the Flathead Valley, which he said was “Wisconsin with mountains. John was a good man. His life was well spent and full, doing what he loved and helping many people to overcome their addictions. He made a difference!
John is survived by his very special wife, Paula, and ex-wives, Sharon Lane and Georgina Boggs; four brothers, Richard (Bobbi) Kestell of New Holstein, Wisconsin, Tom (Gin) Kestell of Waldo, Wisconsin, Dave (Moni) Kestell of Plymouth, and Steve (Luanne) Kestell of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin; five sisters, Kathy (Ambrose) Schmitz of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, Karen (Ralph) Hausler of Plymouth, Eileen (Keith) Kiesow Hassinger of Billings, and Kiel, Wisconsin, Gini (Dick) Schmitz of La Porte, Indiana, and Donna (Mike) Zimmerman of Bradbury, California. Also surviving are a daughter, Amanda Johns, of Whitefish; and son, Patrick Kestell, of Kalispell; three grandchildren, Georgia Johnson, Julienne and Pax Johns; and a stepdaughter, Bridget Roskam and stepson, Christoper Roskam.
In addition to his parents, John was preceded in death by a sister Diane, and two brothers William and Donald “Mike,” niece Nicole Kiesow, nephew Clay Kestell, niece, Charlotte Kestell, and a great-grandniece Abigail Hausler.
A memorial party for friends and family will be held at John and& Paula’s home in Creston from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 1. Call 406-471-2666 for directions.
A burial service will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Cascade, Wisconsin at noon on Sunday, June 23. Following that, there will be a life celebration for John at the family farm in Waldo, Wisconsin. Call 920-528-7063 for directions.
Friends are encouraged to visit the website www.buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolence for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory is caring for the family.