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Dee Caperton Kessel

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Ella Dee Caperton Kessel (February 26, 1943 – September 1, 2000), best known as Dee Caperton Kessel,[1] was a First Lady of West Virginia and Miss West Virginia. She was the ex-wife of former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton, and the daughter of former Jackson County Circuit Court Judge and West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Oliver Kessel.[2]

Dee Caperton Kessel
Ella Dee Kessel

(1943-02-26)February 26, 1943
DiedSeptember 1, 2000(2000-09-01) (aged 57)
Known forMiss West Virginia, First lady of West Virginia, 1989-90

A Ripley, West Virginia native, she held a degree in music from West Virginia University, a master's degree in education from the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She was Miss West Virginia 1964 and the second runner up in the Miss America pageant. She married Caperton in 1965. Two sons were born of the marriage, W.G. (Gat) Caperton, and John Kessel Caperton.

After working as an interior decorator, studying classical music, and learning how to fly an airplane, in 1986 Kessel Caperton was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates for a two-year term. She did not seek reelection in 1988, in order to campaign statewide for Caperton's campaign for governor. After becoming First Lady in 1989, she became the first First Lady of West Virginia to have her own office in the State Capitol. As First Lady she focused on education, children and women's issues.[2]

After divorcing Caperton in 1990, she created national headlines when she announced her candidacy for State Treasurer of West Virginia that year. After losing the Treasurer's race, she moved to France, where she operated a small hotel in Saint-Remy.[2] She died in France on September 1, 2000, aged 57.[2]


  1. ^ "House Resolution No. 26". Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "West Virginia's First Ladies," West Virginia Division of Culture and History, June 2007.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Shelley Riley Moore
First Lady of West Virginia
1989 – 1990
Succeeded by
Rachael Worby