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Miriam S. (Barkus) Kessler

May 2, 1924 December 2, 2018
Miriam S. (Barkus) Kessler
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Obituary for Miriam S. (Barkus) Kessler

Our mother, Miriam S. (Barkus) Kessler, 94, formerly of Philadelphia and Camp Hill, passed away Sunday, December 2, 2018, in Arlington, VA. Daughter of the late Charles and Sophie (Langman) Barkus, she was born on May 2, 1924, in Philadelphia.

Mom was raised in the Jewish faith and many of her writings describe the horror of the Holocaust. Her poems were published in numerous works, including The Alchemist, Blood to Remember, Cries of the Spirit, Kalliope, Paunch, Peregrine, Poet Lore, Poets On Hurting, River Styx, Tabula Rasa, Up Against the Wall, Mother, and Feminist Revision and the Bible (The Bucknell Lectures in Literary Theory). Her book, Someone to Pour the Wine, was published in 1996. She held poetry readings in the Harrisburg area for many years, belonged to numerous writing organizations and workshops, and was a member of Beth Tikvah in Carlisle. In the 1970s, Mom was a reporter for the Patriot News and other local papers, covering the return of wounded and killed service members during the Vietnam war. A life-long civil rights activist, she marched in protest of the Vietnam war and in support of women’s reproductive rights. She acted in many community theater productions at The Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg Community Theatre, an outgrowth of her days as a student at Hedgerow Theatre under the tutelage of Jasper Deeter.

The poet Naomi Shihab Nye described Mom’s poetry as having “... that keen-bladed edge of authenticity, passion, luminous visualization, tenderness.” Phrases like, “Five hundred pounds of polar bear have landed on my roof,” and “Heat like a hungry swamp sucked on the roots of June,” and “God moved back to town in an avalanche of rain,” are just a few of the many memorable lines she wrote.

Miriam is survived by her three daughters, Kathy Kessler Eppelheimer (Chad), Barrie Kessler, and Linda Kessler (James); six grandchildren, Nicholas, Jessie, Samantha, Maggie, Aaron, and Dylan; and two great grandchildren, Robyn and Evan. She is preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Peter Kessler, and her son, Stephen Kessler.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30AM on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at the Chapel of Peace in Rolling Green Cemetery, Camp Hill.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her mother’s name, Sophie Langman Barkus, to the American Cancer Society.

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Previous Events

Memorial Service




11:30 AM 12/6/2018 11:30:00 AM
Rolling Green Cemetery

1811 Carlisle Rd.
Camp Hill, PA 17070

Rolling Green Cemetery
1811 Carlisle Rd. Camp Hill 17070 PA
United States

Memorial Contribution

American Cancer Society

P.O. Box 897
Hershey, PA 17033

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