Our beloved mother, Rebecca Burdette Kessell, smiled at us, told us she loved us with “all her heart” and then departed this earth peacefully on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.
She was preceded in death by her adoring husband of 52 years, Jack Kessell, Sr. She is survived by her children, Wendy Biava (Richard) and Jack Kessell, Jr., nine grandchildren (Alexandra, Hailey, Nicholas, Kimberley, Olivia, Carter, Jacob, Austin and Grace), her brother, Chuck Burdette (Su), her sisters-in-law Jeanne Harner-Roswell, Ella Mae and Dottie Kessell, Pam Plitt and Anna Mae Poole, countless Kessell nieces and nephews and her Burdette nephews, Jesse Rose-Smith (Samantha) and David Burdette (Jessica). She is also survived by the Biava and Gillen families who loved her like one of their own. She was preceded in death by sisters-in-law Faye (Wilmer) Mathias, Wanda (Bill) Roswell and brothers-in-law Gerald (Helen), Gary, Earl, and Jim Kessell.
Born on February 5th, 1949, in Bethesda to hard working parents, Charles King and Ruby Clay Burdette, Rebecca was always following her father around the yard, water skiing on their boat or going fishing at Chain Bridge.
Rebecca met her husband, Jack when she was 8 years old. Jack’s family moved away for a few years and when the Kessells returned to town, Rebecca saw Jack walking around the Damascus carnival. The next day, Jack started driving his Ford Galaxy up and down the street in front of the Burdette’s family home. Eventually, Jack was allowed to take Rebecca on a first date; she had a “fire in her soul” for Jack ever since. She and Jack were married on March 24, 1967. The Kessell brothers built a house in Monrovia where Jack and Rebecca lived and raised their family together until Jack died in 2019.
Rebecca excelled at shorthand, dictation and typing classes at Gaithersburg High School. At one point, Rebecca worked three part time jobs to help her husband support their young family. When her children were older, she worked as a secretary for a telecom company filling the sole administrative function for a large sales staff. When Rebecca’s dear Father, “Dick” Burdette was diagnosed with cancer in 1987, she went back to working part time so she could help with his care.
Rebecca’s first grandchild was born in 1998. Rebecca was an adoring grandmother. She gave up her one day off a week to spend time babysitting her beloved granddaughters Allie, Hailey and Kimi, taking them with their Great Grandma Ruby on fabulous day trips. Rebecca and Jack rarely missed any sports or school functions the girls were in; nearly every week they would have family dinner at Wendy's and catch up on the girl's activities.
People always described Rebecca as the kindest person they ever met. She was someone that was complimentary, positive, and generous. Rebecca always put others before herself. Rebecca had a love for reading especially her favorite author Elin Hilderbrand. She loved traveling to the beach, Disney World, Nashville, and New York City. She also had many pets over the years including deer and her Yorkie Mattie. She was an expert at knitting, crocheting, sewing, cross stitch and crewel embroidery. She loved to collect things like bells, beanie babies, dolls, thimbles, and post cards. Her collection of Sketchers shoes was something the family would tease her about lovingly. Since Jack passed in 2019, Rebecca lived alone next to her best friend of 40 years, Donna Smith, and enjoyed playing cards with the “girls”.
In August 2021, Rebecca was diagnosed with stage four cancer. One of the treatments in May 2022 almost killed her. She fought her way back and was determined to be able to walk and drive again. She accomplished her goal. The week before she passed, she was in Tampa with six of her grandchildren and her unofficial grandson, Danny, relaxing on the beach and reading by the pool.
After New Year’s, Rebecca got very sick and told the doctors at the ER that she was tired and wanted to be with her soul mate Jack, in heaven. She died with a smile, holding hands with her children as they and her pastors prayed over her.
The family wants to thank everyone that prayed for her so tirelessly over the course of her illness. The family will receive friends to Celebrate Rebecca at Bush Creek Church at 4821 Green Valley Road in Monrovia, Maryland on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.
Wear yellow if you have it – the color that reflects the sunny personality of this beautiful woman we all loved.
Visitation/Viewing is from 10am-11am
Funeral from 11am-12pm
Graveside Burial at Pleasant View Cemetery, beside the church at 12pm
Remembrance luncheon to follow the graveside service.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Urbana Volunteer Fire Department, 3602 Urbana Pike, Frederick, MD 21704, or Bush Creek Church (http://www.bushcreekchurch.org/).