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Joseph M. Kersten, 75

Joseph M. Kersten, 75, of Woodstock, passed away Dec. 15, 2023. 

Eldest son of Charles Otto and Mildred (Freeman) Kersten, Joe was born in Chicago. Growing up in nearby Greenwood and Wonder Lake, he attended St. Mary’s grade school in Woodstock. A 1966 graduate of Marian Central Catholic High School, Joe represented the Hurricanes proudly on the gridiron. 

Joe began driving heavy equipment for Don Gavers out of high school. He enlisted in the United States Army the same week his draft number was selected in 1969. Joe served honorably in the 213th Engineer Detachment for 13 months, stationed in Can Tho, South Vietnam.

Out of the Army, Joe hauled freight domestically for Dean Foods before establishing his own domestic long-haul freight service, Woodstock Express. In 1974, he married Diane Merwin. Joe later hauled grain regionally for Polyock Farms of Zenda, Wis., and Dean Foods products for MGA Inc. of Delavan, Wis. While with MGA, Joe also served as shop steward for Teamsters Joint Council 43 of Racine, Wis.

For 40 years, Joe devoted himself to serving northern Illinois veterans through a variety of service organizations, such as VFW Post 5040 as adjutant, VietNow McHenry County Chapter as secretary and president, Amvets, American Legion Post 412 as adjutant and vice commander, and Veterans Assistance Commission of McHenry County, founding and returning chairman.

Enjoying time spent with family and friends, Joe was also an avid angler, trap shooter, and Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Diane (Merwin) Kersten; his three children, Jeff (Keri) Kersten, Don (Heather) Kersten, and Colleen (Dave Christy) Kersten; a son-in-law, Matt Thoma; a younger brother, Jim; a stepsister, Sheila (Gaulke) Lassman; six grandchildren, Alyssa Rohrbaugh, Jacob Kersten, Madisen Thoma, Norah and Halas Kersten, and Grace Kersten; and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents; stepfather, William Gaulke; and two stepsisters, Julie (Gaulke) Mass and Terry (Gaulke) McConville. 

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Schneider, Leucht, Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home, 1211 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock. The visitation will continue on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023, at the funeral home from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. funeral service. Interment with military honors will follow in the Greenwood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please generously support the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation.

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