Education doesn’t end with diploma

A recent notice of the death of Lucille Kessel, the widow of Carrol Kessel, brings memories of a neighbor in rural Jackson County whose knowledge of the use of the recent acquirement of electricity to carry sound and pictures intrigued his mind. After graduating from Ripley High School in the early 1900s, Carrol Kessel had no interest in becoming a farmer. The light bulb was a fairly new product. Correspondence courses were beginning to teach how to build crystal sets to receive sound and more complex sets were being evolved.

Carrol studied every bit of information and soon antennas were to be seen on poles at his hilltop home. When an opportunity to use his knowledge beyond the farm became available in Parkersburg, he and his aging parents moved to Parkersburg. They rented a newly vacant lot at the corner of Market and Eighth Streets in Parkersburg where his father, Austin, a former teacher, operated the first downtown parking lot to support the family while Carrol established himself as an electrical engineer. He and Buford Barrickman, a war veteran, soon had built the second radio station in Parkersburg, WCOM.

After helping establish the first television station in Parkersburg as its engineer, Carrol soon moved to Huntington to help get a station going there. I have heard him dubbed the “father of WSAZ.” He met and married his wife, Lucille, in Huntington when he was in his late ’30s and his two daughters, who survive, attended school there.

The history of Carrol Kessel is proof that education does not end with receiving a high school diploma for those who chose to do more with their life.