Andre John Kessler, loving husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully June 25, 2019, at 79. Andre was born March 8, 1940, in Bucharest, Romania, to Olga Kessler and Ladislas Grunfeld. He is survived by his wife Marsha Tenenbaum Kessler; daughter Gena Kessler Hindman (Rusty); son Laurence Kessler (Lindsay Burnett Kessler); and four grandchildren: Samuel (11), Benjamin (8), Joseph (6) and Jordyn (6).
As a Holocaust survivor and child of Holocaust survivors, Andre and his mother survived by living in hiding in a tiny room for 16 months; escaped across several country borders and oceans; and after many tribulations, arrived in Queens, N.Y., in 1951, when Andre was 11 years old.
Andre spoke five languages, became a Navy corpsman, graduated from and played basketball at New York University, and afterwards was drafted into the NBA, where he played two years of professional basketball for the Philadelphia Warriors (now the Golden State Warriors). After his stint in the NBA, Andre worked for a textile company that brought him to Georgia, where he met Marsha. They celebrated their 45th anniversary in December 2018.
Andre was a passionate proponent of Holocaust education, and in 1976 he began speaking at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, The Bremen Museum and countless schools across the state of Georgia. He was appointed to the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust by Gov. Roy Barnes and was instrumental in the creation of Kennesaw State University’s Anne Frank in the World Exhibit. In an interview in 2013, when asked why it was so important for him to speak about the Holocaust and his experience, Andre responded: “Even though the Holocaust is one of the most documented events in human history, 40 or 50 years from now it’s all going to be on tape; it’s all going to be on film. There aren’t going to be any living survivors around. It is important that it is not forgotten, and that is why I do what I do.”
A funeral service was held June 28, 2019, at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. A memorial service was held July 1, 2019, at Congregation B’nai Torah in Sandy Springs. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made on Andre’s behalf to Congregation B’nai Torah or the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum.