City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremation

Obituary

Frank Kessler

Durham, North Carolina

Age 73.
Died 09/19/2021.

Frank Kessler
Frank was born in East Lansing, Michigan to Esther and George Kessler, second-generation American Jews. At school, he occasionally got in trouble for swinging from ceiling fans but mostly got by on his brilliance and charm.

He attended Michigan State and then Eastern Michigan University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in American History. For a time, he worked at the post office, where he showed off his knowledge of geography by naming all the places on the postcards just from the pictures.

A student of anarchism, Frank joined Students for a Democratic Society while in college and was active in efforts to end the Vietnam War and realize social change from the ground up. He spent time in Southside Chicago working as a community organizer and got to know the city by delivering newspapers in the dark of pre-dawn.

In 1971, he married Lee (Coventry) Stanley, whom he’d met at Michigan State. In 1972, the couple and their twin sons, Dylan and Gabe, moved to Chapel Hill, where Frank pursued graduate studies. They had two more sons, Aaron and Noah.

A life-long educator, Frank taught American History at Virginia State University before becoming a learning skills instructor at UNC’s Learning Center, where he spent more than thirty years helping students succeed academically. After a brief retirement, he continued to work with students at the Carolina Covenant.

A music lover and avid reader, Frank was a regular at local record and bookshops, and amassed an extensive collection of folk, blues, and world music.

Passionate about UNC basketball, he could be heard from down the block cheering on the Heels, or shouting at them, with his sons and best friend, Mimi.

For years, Frank and the family vacationed with Mimi and friends on Ocracoke, one of his happy places, less for love of the beach (he wasn’t a beach person) than for the many good times had there with friends.

He loved getting together with the Learning Center gang for Bad Movie nights, which he hosted for over thirty years. The movies were always bad, the company always good, and the house always full of hilarity (and a fair bit of silliness, too).

His laugh was infectious, though at times of such intensity as to threaten personal peril. On two occasions, his son Noah feared Frank might actually die laughing. Both times, thankfully, he lived to laugh again.

Like his mom, Frank was a marathon phone conversationalist, never missing an opportunity to talk late into the night with a family member, friend, or former student. He also shared his mom’s fondness for Dove chocolates, a stash of which he kept in the door of his fridge. His youngest grandchild, Ava, knew just where, and knew to help herself (and bring one for Zaidy).

His barbeque grilled chicken was about the best thing ever. His homemade spaghetti wasn’t bad either.

During COVID, he continued to see students remotely until diagnosed with stage-four cancer. Though never big on exercise, he worked his tail off in physical therapy, regaining the ability to walk without assistance despite cancer-riddled bones. He hoped to resume work and to have more time with his grandkids.

A reader of the obituaries, he loved learning that someone had lived into their 90s; a ripe old age, he’d say. Though he didn’t get to ripen quite that long, he lived a rich life, full of people, purpose, and pleasures. He’ll be sorely missed.

Frank is survived by his four sons, sister Marsha, and three grandchildren, Jonah, Gwen, and Ava.

A memorial service is being planned for Spring, 2022.

For additional information or for service details, please reach out to the family directly.


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Our Promise

Apples to Apples

Just like all other licensed funeral homes in North Carolina, City of Oaks Cremation, LLC is regulated by the NC Board of Funeral Service.


The same laws that apply to the big corporate funeral homes also apply to the modest independently owned firms like ours. All crematories in North Carolina, regardless of who owns them, are inspected annually by the state and must adhere to the same rules and laws.

Genuine Care

We're committed to providing families within our community unsurpassed service before, during and after the time of loss.


Our staff will provide clear communication to your family through each step as we move forward from the original phone call notifying us of a death to the time we deliver the urn back to your family. We will treat your family with the utmost respect, as we honor the wishes of your loved one.


We promise to make this process affordable and as endurable as possible.

State Wide

Our Funeral Home is located in Wake County NC; however, we provide our services to families throughout the entire State.


Unlike other funeral homes, we don't charge an additional mileage fee. Regardless of what county you live in, we can help your family with making simple, affordable funeral arrangements. From Asheville to Wilmington, we're proud to help families statewide.

Our Services

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Direct Cremation

$1196.75

Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. We include everything you need for a simple or direct cremation. Simple, affordable and reliable. We have not changed the cost of our direct cremation service since we opened City of Oaks in 2012.

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Cremation with Visitation

$1917.84

City of Oaks Funeral Home and Cremation provides an affordable cremation option with onsite visitation. Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. Simple, affordable and reliable.

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Immediate Burial

$2497.50

An immediate burial has the same end result as a traditional burial; however, we have eliminated the extra (sometimes unnecessary) services prior to getting to the cemetery. Not everyone wants an open casket for viewing or a limousine for the family. Despite the term immediate, we can move as fast as you need or as slow as you like. This option simply allows you to save money by eliminating some of the fancy extras at the funeral home.

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Traditional Funeral

$5428.14

We offer the same traditional funeral services as the big corporately owned funeral homes in the area; however, we cost about half the amount. You might consider a traditional funeral service if your family is looking for an open casket visitation, a traditional church service or a funeral service in the funeral home's chapel. A traditional funeral service can be altered to fit the needs of your family.

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Green Burial

$2497.50

This establishment is one of a select number of funeral homes who meet the criteria for providing green funeral service by the Green Burial Council; a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization working to encourage environmentally sustainability in the field of funeral service. Our Green options allow for a funeral to take place without the use of toxic and non-biodegradable materials/chemicals.

City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremations