Kessinger, Arloe W.

1911-1989 | Airplane Pilot and Mechanic

Arloe Walter Kessinger was born in Medaryville, Indiana on December 23, 1911. There is little known about his childhood in Indiana.

Kessinger arrived in Anchorage, Alaska in July 1933 to work as a pilot and mechanic for Mac McGee, his half-brother, who owned McGee Airways. Arloe Kessinger was a heavy-duty mechanic and worked on diesel engines of any size. He worked for the operation until 1937, when McGee merged it with Alaska Star Airways. After leaving McGee Airways, he worked for the Alaska Road Commission as a heavy duty mechanic and equipment operator, and participated in the construction of the road to Wonder Lake in Mount McKinley National Park (now Denali National Park and Preserve), which was completed in 1939. He also worked for Mac McGee's mining operations. Other employment was with the Alaska Railroad as a heavy duty mechanic.

Kessinger was later employed by the federal Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) and its successor agency, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as lead diesel electric mechanic.  With the FAA, he traveled to remote sites throughout Alaska installing and maintaining power plants for navigation aids. He retired from the FAA in 1968, and then worked as a mechanic for Airport Machinery Company in Anchorage as a small engine and generator mechanic until 1974.[1]

In 1939, Kessinger married Esther Alton Browne in Wasilla, Alaska. She was born in Remsen, New York on August 21, 1918, the eldest daughter of Neal Allen and Pearl Alton Browne. Her family moved to Alaska in 1928 and settled in Kasilof on the Kenai Peninsula, where her father had a fox farm and raised silver foxes. In 1929, her family moved to Nenana, where her father worked for the Alaska Railroad as station manager and telegrapher. In 1934, the family relocated to Wasilla, and Esther attended Anchorage High School, graduating in 1935.  She then graduated from a business college in Seattle, Washington and returned to Alaska where, in 1939, she met Kessinger. They settled in Anchorage the following year.

Esther Kessinger worked for forty years for the National Bank of Alaska and served as secretary to Elmer E. Rasmuson from 1952 until her retirement in 1989. In addition to her secretarial work, in her early career she also worked as a teller clerk and as the bookkeeper. Esther Kessinger was a member of the Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo 15, Auxiliary 4, Anchorage, and the Order of the Eastern Star. She was a charter member of the Billikin Chapter of Professional Secretaries International (now the Alaska Branch of the Association of Information Technology Professionals). She worked for a time as a certified flight attendant with Club Alaska, a local charter operation.[2]

Arloe W. Kessinger died on August 12, 1989, in Anchorage. His widow, Esther Browne Kessinger, died on May 1, 1997 at Providence Alaska Medical Center. Their eldest daughter, Laine Kessinger Hermann, died in 1990. Esther Kessinger was survived by her daughter, Aria Kessinger Butcher of Anchorage.



[1] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 349; and Obituary, Arloe Kessinger, Anchorage Daily News, August 15, 1989, D-2, America’s News [database on-line], Anchorage Public Library, (accessed August 4, 2016).

[2] Obituary, Esther B. Kessinger, Anchorage Daily News, May 11, 1997, B-5, America’s News [database on-line], Anchorage Public Library, (accessed August 4, 2016); and “Business People,” Anchorage Daily News, June 14, 1989, C-2, America’s News [database on-line], Anchorage Public Library, (accessed August 4, 2016).




This biographical sketch of Arloe W. Kessinger is based on an essay which originally appeared in John Bagoy’s Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 349. See also the Arloe Kessinger file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 4, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage, AK. Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited slightly by Bruce Parham, August 4, 2016.

Preferred citation:  Mina Jacobs, ed., “Kessinger, Arloe W.,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940,

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website,