Cover photo for Richard M. Gessler's Obituary
Richard M. Gessler Profile Photo
1957 Richard 2024

Richard M. Gessler

September 4, 1957 — February 7, 2024

Richard Matthew Gessler, age 66, of Grand Forks, ND, passed away on Wednesday, February 7, 2024. Rick, as he was affectionately known, was born in Queens, NY on September 4th, 1957, to Joseph and Marie Gessler. Growing up with his older brother Joe, Rick spoke only German until he began Kindergarten. The family later relocated to West Milford, NJ, where Rick attended West Milford schools.

After graduating, Rick joined the Air Force and was stationed in Grand Forks, ND. Interestingly, he was initially slated for duty in Taiwan but exchanged assignments with another airman, leading him to Grand Forks, where he forged a lasting connection with the community.

Rick's zest for life, love for his family, and expansive circle of friends were unparalleled. His magnetic personality left a lasting impression on everyone he encountered. Rick was passionate about food, believing that sharing a meal was a gesture of love, and he never failed to make his guests feel cherished.

Following his military service, Rick pursued a career in nursing, graduating from UND. He then dedicated himself to caring for others as a nursing supervisor at Grafton State School for many years. Later, he transitioned to Human Resources at Altru, where he served for 28 years, witnessing and contributing to numerous organizational transformations. Rick maintained close ties with his HR colleagues throughout his life.

Throughout his distinguished career in Human Resources, Rick maintained his nursing license and dedicated himself to caring for others on Altru's psychiatric floor. His commitment to excellence in nursing was recognized when he was honored with the prestigious DAISY Award, a testament to his extraordinary compassion and integrity in every situation.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Rick was a man of many talents and passions. A self-taught drummer from a young age, Rick's rhythmic skills were undeniable. His love for music led him to become a charter member of the Sharon Lutheran Contemporary Worship team, "Higher Ground," where for over 30 years, he lent his strong, beautiful voice and skillful drumming to make worship services truly meaningful for others.

In addition to his service with "Higher Ground," Rick also shared his musical talents with his band "Crosswire," where he sang and drummed with passion and enthusiasm. His contributions to the local music scene brought joy and inspiration to audiences far and wide.

Outside of work, Rick found joy in the simple act of fishing. But for Rick, fishing wasn't just about the catch—it was about the entire experience, the camaraderie shared with friends and loved ones, the laughter exchanged over stories of the one that got away, and don’t forget the enormous Wal-mart subs dripping with mayo and mustard for lunch.

Despite his affinity for angling, Rick freely admitted that he wasn't the handiest when fixing things. However, he possessed something even more valuable: a vast network of friends who were always ready to lend a hand. Rick's friends knew they could count on him for a good laugh while they tackled the task at hand.

Rick's ability to foster such meaningful connections spoke volumes about the kind of person he was. He valued friendship above all else and understood that life's greatest adventures are best shared with those we hold dear. Through friendship, Rick's spirit will continue to ripple through the lives of all who knew him.

Above all, Rick cherished his family. He was a devoted husband to Roxanne, a loving father to his children, a doting grandfather, and a great-grandfather. His affection and pride for his family were evident in every interaction, always concluding with an "I love you." Rick's genuine and open-hearted nature fostered deep connections; many considered him family, especially his Sharon Lutheran "Higher Ground" community.

In retirement, Rick found fulfillment in volunteering at Northlands Rescue Mission, where he delighted to serve meals and build relationships with clients and staff. His commitment was recognized with the Volunteer of the Year award, a testament to his unwavering dedication to helping others.

Rick's legacy of love, laughter, generosity, and kindness will endure in the hearts of all who knew him. He touched countless lives and leaves behind a rich tapestry of memories that will be cherished forever. Rick will be remembered for his kindness, his unwavering dedication to his work and his music, and his ability to touch the lives of all who knew him. He will forever live on in the hearts of his family, friends, and colleagues.

Rick is survived by his loving wife, Roxanne; his children, Shayne Fettig Hughes (John), Stephanie Sanders (Tom), Shea Nichole Conley, Nicole Gessler, Genette Gessler, Lindsay Gessler Heard (Otis), Lauren Lyga (Trevor), Lacey Kraft (Michael), Jake Gessler (Paige), Josh Gessler (Katie), and Chad Bartosh; 19 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild, Rick is survived by his mother, Marie Gessler;   his five sisters, Marlene (“Butch”) Coscia, Rosie (Paul) Warren, Lisa Gessler, Lori (Ron) Bevacqua, and Heidi (Tom) Cassels, and a multitude of friends who will miss him dearly.. 

Rick is preceded in death by his father, Joseph; brother Joe; son, Jarod; and grandson Jarod. 

A funeral service is scheduled for 2:00 Saturday, February 10, 2024 at Sharon Lutheran Church, 1720 S. 20th St., in Grand Forks, ND, with a visitation beginning at 1:00 PM. His prayer service will be held at Sharon Lutheran Church, Friday, February 9 at 7:00 PM with visitation beginning at 6:00 PM. Arrangements by Amundson Funeral Home. An online guestbook is available at: 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Sharon Lutheran Church roof repair or Valley Senior Living in Rick's memory.

To watch a live stream of Rick's Prayer Service on Friday, February 9th, please use the link: 

To watch a live stream of Rick's Service on Saturday, February 10th, please use the link: 


To order memorial trees in memory of Richard M. Gessler, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation and Prayer Service

Friday, February 9, 2024

Starts at 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Memorial Service

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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