Michael Kesler, Ph.D, died August 23, 2021 from advanced Parkinsons disease at the age of 97, surrounded by family at his home in East Brunswick, NJ. Born in Dubno, Poland (now Ukraine), Michael and his sister Luba fled their family home to escape the Nazis. They wandered through 3,000 miles to Uzbekistan. During four years, they suffered yet persevered in their quest to survive.
After the war, Keslerl spent a year in a displaced person’s camp in Germany, and was awarded a scholarship from the B’nai B’rith Association to Colby College in Maine. He transferred to MIT, where he earned three degrees: a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Chemical Engineering, and a second Master’s in Biology. Later, he was awarded a PhD in Chemical Engineering from NYU.
In his career as a chemical engineer in the petroleum industry, he was employed by M.W. Kellogg in New York City. While there, he created one of the first chemical engineering simulation programs, The Flexible Flowsheet. He then worked for Exxon, then Mobil Oil. While at Mobil, he created a well-known set of mathematical tools called the Lee-Kesler Correlations, with his colleague B.I. Lee.
Stanley Sandler, Ph.D, former editor of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal, remembers Kesler’s papers as being among the most cited in the journal in 50 years.
Kesler next established Kesler Engineering, Inc., which became a highly regarded consulting firm to the petroleum industry internationally.
When Kesler retired in the 2000s, due to blindness caused by glaucoma, he embarked on a new career as a nonfiction writer. He authored four books, beginning with editing his late wife’s account of surviving the Holocaust and finding a new life in America, as a Harvard-educated pediatrician. He followed that with a memoir of his World War II experiences and a self-help book for when cancer strikes a family. His latest volume, The Remnant, published in April 2021 by Vallentine Mitchell (UK), concerns the remnant of Polish Jewry who survived the War by fleeing to the Soviet Union. Dr. Kesler was indeed a part of that remnant and felt it imperative to share his story in light of the world’s ongoing refugee crises.
Kesler always valued his participation in Jewish life, culture and literature. He served as the cantor of the Paramus Jewish Center, and more recently founded Tales of the Past Promoters (TOPPs), celebrating the history and culture of European Jewry. For his contributions, he received a Legacy Award from the East Brunswick Public Library Foundation at its 2018 Gala.
Kesler leaves behind his wife, Dr. Barbara S. Reed of East Brunswick, NJ. He is also survived by his four children with his late wife, Regina Kesler, M.D,: Mark (of Durham, NC), May Kesler Breslow (of Chevy Chase, Maryland), David (of San Francisco, California) and Theodore (of White Plains, New York), as well as two stepchildren: Michael Reed (of Mountain View, California) and Rabbi Esther Reed (of Highland Park, New Jersey). He was Zaydee/Poppy to eleven grandchildren: Aaron Kesler, Regina Breslow, Joe and Maia Kesler, Korina and Daniel Kesler, Megan and Hannah Reed, and Isaac, Sammy, and Jonah Reed-Schwartz.
The funeral was held on Wednesday, August 25, at Congregation Neve Shalom, 250 Grove Avenue, Metuchen, New Jersey under the direction of Mount Sinai Memorial Chapels. Only those who were vaccinated were invited to attend and masks were required.
Memorial contributions may be made in Kesler’s memory to Rutgers University Hillel at https://rutgershillel.org/life-and-legacy/; International Hillel at https://www.hillel.org/; Colby College at 4000 Mayflower Hill Dr, Waterville, Maine, 04901; MIT at https://giving.mit.edu/form/#/; NYU at https://www.nyu.edu/about/giving.html; The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee at https://www.jdc.org/; HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) at https://act.hias.org/page/31034/donate/1; or to Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at https://www.fidf.org/
Preceding provided the Kesler family.
Republished from San Diego Jewish World