Billie Kestel of Perry

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Billie Mae Bennett was born March 3, 1947, to Chalmer and Betty Mae Bennett in Perry, Iowa, where she grew up on the family farm.

She attended Perry High School, where she met Dick Kestel. The high school sweethearts married on Aug. 30, 1966.

Setting their roots in Perry, Billie worked at the Beauty Top salon as a beautician. Upon the birth of their first child, Koleen, Billie became a homemaker and a few years later gave birth to their second child, Kevin.

While taking care of her family, Billie also helped out on the family farm, walking beans, gardening, canning, picking gooseberries and making gooseberry pie!

Once the kids were in school, Billie ventured back into the working world at the Perry Home Center. She enjoyed several years there, decorating and hanging drapes, but eventually she went back to fixing hair. Billie the beautician and Dick the barber.

Together they enjoyed spending time with family and friends boating, camping, fishing and snowmobiling. After the kids were older, they took up country two-step and went dancing at Lake Robbins nearly every Saturday night. They also spent a lot of time woodworking and making their home their oasis.

After the loss of Dick in 1996, Billie took over Kestel’s Klipper and eventually moved the shop into her home. Billie cherished her customers, and most became lifelong friends.

Billie reconnected with a childhood friend, Jerry Garnes. Together they would become partners in crime until her death.

Billie and Jerry loved to camp and fish. Even when camping, she would come out with freshly made caramel corn, dips, brownies and loved to make peach cobbler and homemade ice cream. They also spent time with family and friends playing cards and games.

At any gathering, Billie was known to bring some of the most savory treats, a pitcher of Peachies or a new dip or any one of her special treats.

But it was at Christmas when Billie’s inner child would shine. She wanted to bury the Christmas tree with gifts and buy her family everything they wanted PLUS! The house was filled with Christmas decorations. Billie was the Hallmark Christmas before it existed. Fudge, English toffee and peanut brittle were her specialties.

Billie was of all things beautiful. She filled the world with her beautiful energy and wanted to beautify it with her magic touch. She was devoted to her family and friends and wanted to make the world a better place. She did that just by being in it.

Billie passed away Sunday, June 30, 2024, in her home surrounded by family.

She was preceded in death by her husband and parents.

She is survived by her partner, Jerry; children, Koleen (Ramon) Kanealy and Kevin Kestel; grandchildren, Jill Kanealy, Phillip (Alison) Kanealy, Jake (Emily) Kestel, Devin Kestel and Kenzie Kestel; three great-granddaughters; sisters, Jackie (Roger) Neuhalfen and Roxanne (Steven) Gunderson; along with many nephews and nieces, all of whom she loved dearly.

There will be a graveside prayer held in the Violet Hill Cemetery (eastside) on July 20 at 10:30 a.m. open for all who would like to honor her memory.

Memorials can be made to the American Lung Association, St. Jude’s or by simply planting a flower in her honor or baking a goodie to share with a friend.

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