OBITUARY — ROBERT C. KUSENBERGER, SR
Robert C. Kusenberger, Sr. – beloved father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend passed away on Wednesday, March 29th, 2023, at the age of 82, surrounded by his family. He leaves behind his adored wife Ruth, his four children, Robert, Jr. (Maria), Anthony (Patricia), Jacob (Lara) and Helen (Doug); his 14 grandchildren, Jamie Constanzo (fiancé Rick Nino), Jonathan Lauret, Tessa Kusenberger (fiancé Jared McKlemurry), Ana Maria Kusenberger, Colby Kusenberger (fiancée Jessica Arocha), Shelby Kusenberger, Cassidy Kusenberger, Cody Kusenberger, Kalli Theiss (Dustin), Cameron Kusenberger, Gage Kusenberger, Kennedy Kusenberger, Kelsey Ellett, and Bo Ellett; his great grandchild, Lily Belle Theiss; his brother John Kusenberger (Sharon), sister Laney Dusse (Joseph), and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews. Robert was preceded in death by his father, Huck Kusenberger (Frances), his mother Helen Shelton Kendall (Malcolm), and his brother Hugh Kusenberger.
Robert was born in Del Rio, Texas, on December 29th, 1940, to Huck Kusenberger and Helen Shelton. He was the youngest of three boys and according to his two older brothers, was the spoiled child in the family.
Robert’s entire life was centered around love and care for others. But three of his greatest loves were for Ruth, his wife of 57 years, for his children, grandchildren and great grandchild and for The Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Despite the breakup of his parent’s marriage, Robert was raised a loyal and committed Catholic. The parish in Del Rio was staffed by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and as a result, but to his parent’s great surprise, Robert felt compelled, at age fifteen, to enter the Oblate Father’s Minor Seminary, St. Anthony’s, in San Antonio. His six years in the seminary were the most formative years of his life, culminating in the taking of first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for one year.
During his Novitiate, the 5th year in the seminary, he was able to send a total of three Christmas Cards to family or friends. He sent one to each of his parents, and not wanting to offend either of his two brothers who lived at different locations sent his third card to Ruth, who like himself, was in her own Novitiate.
Robert’s sixth year of religious life proved to be the most arduous, because it gradually became apparent to him that religious life was not his vocation. He always said the most difficult decision he ever made was to leave the seminary, which happened two years before Ruth left the convent.
The Holy Spirit is known as the great Consoler; and the consolation he received after leaving the seminary was knowing, inexplicably, that he would marry Ruth Ann Graf. Ruth was a young woman three and a half years his senior, whom he had never dated, barely knew, and at the time was a nun in a convent. After two years of additional college education, Robert graduated from St. Mary’s University with a Business Degree specializing in Accounting & Taxation. Without any sign of Ruth, he became confused and somewhat disillusioned. One day while driving to work he heard a Paul Harvey radio broadcast in which he stated, “if there is something in life you wanted and did not achieve it, it’s for one of two reasons: either you didn’t really want it in the first place; or you bargained over the price.” Paul Harvey’s comment caused him to reconsider the priesthood and he applied to reenter the seminary after graduation; and was again accepted. At that time, it was required that he have at least six months work experience after graduation to receive his certificate as a Certified Public Accountant, which he and the Oblates thought would benefit the Oblate Order, so they mutually agreed to delay his reentry for six months. Two months later as he was walking to work, Ruth’s older sister, Marie, who saw Robert passing her office, came out and very jubilantly said, “guess what”? Without a moment’s hesitation Robert looked her straight in the eye and responded, “Ruth is coming home!” Surprised, she said, “how did you know? She only called last night!” To which he replied, “I guess I’ve always known” and continued on to work. When Ruth came home, it only took thirty-one days until they were engaged to be married. Robert wrote to the Oblate Superior and explained that he would not be returning.
During their five month courtship Ruth asked Robert repeatedly, “Why do you want to marry me?” Robert repeatedly answered, “Because you are my salvation!” Robert & Ruth were married on January 15th, 1966 at Sacred Heart Church in Del Rio, Texas. After fifty-seven years of marriage there is absolutely no doubt in Ruth’s mind what he meant!
To earn a living to support his large family, Robert established his own Certified Public Accounting Firm in Del Rio in 1973 and practiced that profession, including business management services, for 21 years. In 1985, Robert ventured into entrepreneurship developing a chain of twenty-eight gasoline and convenience stores and five fuel distribution centers in Southwest Texas. He was aided by his four children, who became partners in these businesses which were ultimately sold in 2015. Robert’s children continued their father’s entrepreneurial ways, establishing their own independent businesses beginning in 2001.
Throughout his life Robert gave of his time, talent and treasure. He served on the Board of San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated ISD, the Sacred Heart Parish Council, was made a Knight of St. Gregory by the Great Pope Paul VI in 1978, served on the Catholic Charities Board, the Archdiocese of San Antonio Finance Board, the Deaconate Board of the San Antonio Archdiocese, the Oblate U.S. Financial Council Board, the Oblate Fundraising Board, and the Oblate School of Theology Board for the last 35 years. Robert used to say “He may have left the seminary but he never left The Oblates”. Robert and his wife Ruth were made Honorary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 2011. Robert was ordained as a Permanent Deacon in 1983. He served as deacon of Sacred Heart Catholic Church for 28 years and most recently at St. Peter – Prince of the Apostle’s Church.
Robert posted a family motto from the Book of Joshua on a colorful tiled plaque that was displayed prominently in the family home that read: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” The family believes that the Lord took him to Heaven saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant”.
The Kusenberger family would like to thank Sisters Care In-Home Care (Adela Lujan, Monica Perez, Ruby Perez, Tammy Wilkerson) and Mission Homecare (Joe Barran, Rita Hunter, Danielle Scott, Gabriella Lamarsillaise, Nora Egeolu), Good Shepherd Hospice and all the other care givers who showed Robert their love and support.
A visitation will be held at Immaculate Conception Chapel (on the grounds of Oblate School of Theology) on Tuesday, 04/04/23, from 5:30pm to 6:30pm with a rosary to follow. The funeral mass will be held at Immaculate Conception Chapel on Wednesday, 04/05/23, at 10:00am with burial at Oblate Cemetery. Reception to follow.
The funeral mass will be livestreamed at https://youtube.com/live/uz449KPvfZQ
Those wishing to send flowers may send them to the following address:
Porter Loring Mortuary
San Antonio, Texas 78212
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to one of the following organizations:
The Village of the Incarnate Word
4707 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas 78209
The Oblate School of Theology
285 Oblate of Theology, San Antonio, Texas 78216