Aug. 14, 1931 — Sept. 8, 2010
TIPPECANOE — After a courageous eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Wayne Kelsey Bessinger passed away peacefully at his home in the loving care of his family Sept. 8, 2010.
Wayne Kelsey was born Aug. 14, 1931 in the family home to Rollie and Lydia (Eaglebarger) Bessinger. He was the youngest of seven children: the twins, Fawn and Lavon, Evelyn, Genevieve, Roy and Max. He attended Bourbon schools and graduated in 1949. He and his father Rollie farmed together and had a dairy herd.
In March of 1953, Wayne gave up his draft deferment and joined the Army serving in the Korean conflict. He returned home Christmas Eve of 1954 and resumed farming with his father.
Aug. 11, 1957 Wayne and Betty Ann Eby were married. They raised three children: Susan Kay, Clint Rollie, and Kelly Ann. They lived in the home where Wayne was born and eventually purchased the farm. They lived there until November of 1981 when they moved to their current residence in Tippecanoe. Wayne bought this farm and developed a wildlife refuge. Wayne practiced conservation farming and has received many awards over the years.
His church was very important to him. He has served faithfully in many capacities. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Bourbon.
Wayne drove a school bus for the Triton School Corporation for 22 years.
Together, Wayne and Betty operated a bed and breakfast for 17 years. They have enjoyed their retirement after many years of working together on the farm and the bed and breakfast. Wayne and Betty have traveled and camped with their children and friends for many years.
Wayne loved to cook outside on a wood fire, which was a big part of their camping experiences. They established a yearly tradition with their children and grandchildren and spent a weekend at a state park of their choice. This was their Christmas gift to their children. Everyone thought this was a very special time.
Wayne felt very fortunate to have a close relationship with all of his children and has enjoyed being able to watch the grandchildren grow up. Susan and Clint both built homes on the refuge. Kelly and her family live in Missouri and Wayne and Betty have felt blessed to be able to make many memorable trips to visit. They usually planned their travel on the back roads and got to know the state very well.
After Wayne developed his own wildlife refuge he became a part of the development of Potawatomi Park. He became a director and loved seeing it grow and become the park it is today. His last project at the park was working on the beautiful pavilion and seeing it completed.
Wayne is survived by his wife of 53 years, Betty Ann; his three children whom he loved and admired very much: Susan and Tony Konkle, Clint and Melissa Bessinger (and their children Jena and Marc Gould, Andrew Nelson and Jared Wayne, Hannah and Travis Bryant, Kelsey Anna, and Jacob Clint), and Kelly and Randy Henkle (and their children Noah, Shauna, Chelsea, and Chase; his sisters, Fawn Heisler, Evelyn Hall, and Genevieve Heckaman; and his brother, Max and Jesse Bessinger.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Rollie and Lydia; a grandson, Rollie Wayne Bessinger; his sister, Lavon Stackhouse; his brother, Roy Bessinger; his brother-in-laws, John Heisler, Lester Hall, and Lloyd Heckaman; and his special friend, Wayne Cripps.
In lieu of flowers, Wayne requested memorial contributions be made to the Bourbon First United Methodist Church Men’s Group, the Potawatomi Wildlife Park, or the Bourbon Lion’s Club.
Visitation will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12 at the Bourbon First United Methodist Church.
Funeral services will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 13 at the church with Rev. Stormy Scherer-Berry and William Erwin officiating.
Burial will follow at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Bourbon.
Deaton-Clemens Funeral Home, Bourbon, assisted the family with arrangements.