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Suffolk father dies on USS Enterprise day before daughter’s graduation

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Posted at 8:45 PM, Jun 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-11 20:45:20-04

Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Kessler served in the Navy for 28 years.

“He really loved his job,” said his wife Anne Kessler.

But more than his job, he loved his family.  He had two children and was married to his wife Anne for 23 years.

“If you went on Facebook or talked to any of our friends, they would say we have a love story that everybody wants, after 23 years, we were deeply in love and he treated me like a princess, always had. He sacrificed everything for his family,” said Kessler.

She said it hasn't hit her yet that the man she loves is now gone.  He was found dead in his berthing compartment Friday on board the USS Enterprise where he served as a logistics specialist.

Anne Kessler says she still doesn't know exactly what happened.

The devastating news came at a time when the family should have been celebrating.   On Saturday, Kessler's daughter graduated from First Baptist Christian School as salutatorian.

A classmate offered to stand with her and give the speech if she couldn't, but though it was tough, she got through it.

“I think she felt she was doing it for her dad, and we`re really proud of her,” said Kessler.

Although he passed away before the ceremony, Kessler was able to let his daughter know just how proud he was as well.

He had sent her an email about her upcoming graduation shortly before he died.

“Told her how proud he was of her and how, you know, he was just so thankful to have a daughter who’s so responsible, and graduating with special honors and everything, so that was a real gift, a real gift to her,” said Kessler.

Along with that gift, Kessler says her son and daughter both told her one of the most important things he's given them is a strong sense of integrity.

“That just really touched my heart that both children in separate situations had the same word to describe their father; I’m thankful for that,” said Kessler.

As they deal with the loss, the family is holding on to those memories and leaning on their faith.

“Other than being a leader in the military, he was a spiritual leader in our home and we learned from him to live by faith and that`s what we're going to keep doing,” said Kessler.

Memorial and funeral arrangements are still being made.