Ligonier man was most at home in the outdoors

November 29, 2018

Jim Kistler excelled at whatever he did, whether it was in the military, in the corporate world or as an outdoorsman in the wilds of Forest County.

“He was a very persistent man, very smart and talented,” said his stepson, James Bickerstaff.

Mr. Kistler enlisted in the Army out of high school and was sent to West Germany, where he became part of a six-man team that operated the Davy Crockett Weapon System -- a small, tactical nuclear weapon.

“Each one of them knew a certain procedure, and without one of the six, the missile wouldn’t fire,” Bickerstaff said.

The team eventually was sent to Key West, Fla., during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

James P. Kistler, of Ligonier, died Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. He was 76.

Born in West Mifflin on July 27, 1942, he was the son of the late William and Sara (Killcrese) Kistler. He graduated from Munhall High School in 1960, whereupon he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the infantry.

Upon his discharge in 1962, he moved back to West Mifflin and took a job with DoALL Sawing Products. He was manager of the North Versailles office and worked himself up to general manager and vice president of sales, Bickerstaff said.

“He had a very charismatic personality,” he said. Mr. Kistler retired in 2000.

His truest passion was the outdoors, whether he was flying his beloved ultralight or bow hunting in Tionesta, Forest County. He enjoyed doing both with his brother, Weldon.

Mr. Kistler spent many hunting seasons at the family cabin in Tionesta, hunting deer and turkey and fishing for trout. He eventually turned the cabin over to his nephews, Matthew and John Durik, although he declined to disclose his favorite fishing spot, Bickerstaff said.

“One time, when his nephew Matthew asked him, ‘Where’s a good place to go fishing?’ Jim’s response was, ‘Right across the street is where the creek’s at. There’s the water.’ ”

When he wasn’t working or hunting, he served as an Elizabeth Township volunteer firefighter and as an American Red Cross emergency responder. He responded to disaster calls locally and out of state, including Oklahoma and Florida.

Later in life, when he and his wife, Joan, moved to Ligonier, he got involved in the community by serving on the borough zoning board.

“He loved living in Ligonier,” she said. “That was a way he was able to contribute a little bit.”

Mr. Kistler was preceded in death by a brother and a sister.

He is survived by his wife, Joan; his stepson, James Bickerstaff and his wife, Teresa; his daughters, Sally Kistler and Jill Kistler; two grandchildren; a sister; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Friends may call from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Snyder Funeral Home, 402 E. Church St., Ligonier. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home, followed by a private burial.

The Ligonier Valley Veterans Honor Guard will conduct services at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

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