- Issue 6
The first graduating class of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, now Kennedy Catholic High School, started school not even having a completed campus at our familiar location on 140th Street. While this didn’t make for the typical high school experience, it led to stronger friendships and greater school pride. As we all know, life doesn’t always go the way we planned. Sometimes, the backup plan doesn’t even end up being right. But the search for the right path can be all the more rewarding. And sometimes, maybe even often, new dreams are made as we go.
An extraordinarily involved student, Joe Kiesel-Nield ’70 was the manager of football, basketball, and baseball, served in student government, helped manage the chocolate sale fundraiser, and headed the Kennedy Day celebration. With this in mind, it’s no wonder he’s taken on the responsibility of heading a planning committee for the Lancer’s first-ever 50-year reunion. He’s always been committed to celebrating community, especially as a member of The Instigators, a secret club for students dedicated to promoting school spirit. Due to the pandemic, the 50-year reunion will be taking place a bit later than originally planned, but the silver lining is more quality time with his wife.
After graduating from Kennedy, Joe continued his education at Seattle University, partially funded by a basketball manager scholarship thanks to his years of experience and involvement. There, he studied history, thinking he would teach. That plan changed his junior year, and he switched his major, graduating with a degree in Physical Education. After a less-than-great student teaching experience, Joe stepped away to see what other paths life might have in store for him. After several short stints in a variety of industries, including three and a half years as Assistant Ticket Manager for the Magic Kingdom, he found himself drawn back to school, where he completed a master’s degree in Religious Education. It seemed, after some time away, being back leading young adults was finally the perfect way for Joe to live out his mission of service to others. He spent the next 18 years as the Catholic Campus Minister at Central Washington University. Making his way back to Seattle University for his master’s degree brought yet another blessing to his life: meeting his wife, Kathleen, there on the library lawn.
Central Washington isn’t the only place Joe found to be of service. Adding to his resume the title of Science Teacher at Wahluke High School, he returned to his first plan of teaching. He also had another wonderful opportunity: getting back to his love of sports, coaching football, basketball, baseball and cross-country. Joe is retired now, at least officially, but still substitute teaches and coaches for the high school. Partners in all parts of their lives, he also dedicates time to help his wife Kathleen adapt her teaching to virtual learning as a junior high music teacher.
When he gives himself time off for an adventure, it’s a sure bet to find Joe outdoors. A lover of national parks, he would spend his ideal weekend hiking through Mt. Rainier National Park, although with a few more days, he may have chosen Glacier National Park, Yosemite National Park, or, his favorite, Yellowstone National Park.
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