92-year-old enjoys the open road
Reporter, Hart County News-Herald
Without even realizing it, Dale Kessler has earned a reputation as somewhat of a local legend, especially among motorcycle enthusiasts. Ask anyone in Hart County, and they’ve likely heard of the 92-year-old rider who can still be found in the crowds of motorcycle runs.
Kessler began riding in 1944, and though he hasn’t ridden consistently due to his previous time in the service and his time spent raising his family with his wife, he has enjoyed many years on various bikes. He has always enjoyed riding, which is a passion he can trace back to his brother’s 1937 Harley Davidson.
“The bike I started out with, my dad and mom had bought from my brother when he was in WWII,” Kessler said. “When he went overseas, he shipped it home, so I took charge of it until after he got home…I made up my mind I was going to ride it when I got it. Dad and I went to the depot and got it, brought it home, knocked the crate off of it, and figured out how to start it. I got on it and started riding.”
Seventy-seven years later, his current motorcycle is a 2005 Harley Davidson.
“I enjoy riding,” Kessler said. “The trip I enjoyed most was when we (Kessler and his sons) got together and went to Daytona…The three of us went to Daytona one year to the races down there.”
Kessler’s granddaughter, Hannah, used to ride with him when she was little and loved for him to come pick her up, another fond memory in his rich history.
“For a couple of years, Dad would pick my daughter Hannah up from school,” said Kessler’s daughter, Patti England. “She and the kids thought that was pretty cool! Dad would usually take her for short rides around town before heading home. Dad and I used to go on Poker Runs together with me being the co-pilot. (He) has won several awards for being the oldest in the group of Poker Run riders. He keeps the bike in tip-top condition and very clean…just in case the riding bug hits.”
Kessler has ridden in many parades and loves to just enjoy the scenery. Since most of his friends have stopped riding, he often goes alone but will occasionally meet up with groups of local riders who stop to invite him to join in their route.’
“I have many friends around the state and some out of state that I’ve ridden with, even one in Wisconsin and his friend from Norway,” Kessler said. “When I began riding, there was only two others and myself that had bikes. I had planned to stop riding at 90-years-old, but now I’m trying for 93…maybe more if able.”
Within the last few years, he’d been riding with a group from the Canmer and Hardyville area, as well as another rider who lives near him.
“They’d come over occasionally and say, ‘We’ve got to take a ride,’ and I said ‘Well, I’m here and available, and anytime you’re ready just come on by,’” Kessler said. “As Minnie Pearl used to say, I’m just so proud to be here.”