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Michael “Mike” Kern, 80, of Wooster, passed Friday, February 22, 2019 at LifeCare Hospice, surrounded by his loving family.
Services will be Sunday at 3 p.m. at Roberts Funeral Home-Sherwood Chapel, Wooster. There will be a wake for friends and family on Monday, February 25th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Rox Gastropub (adjoining Broken Rocks Cafe) in Wooster. Inurnment will be held privately at a later date at Sherwood Memorial Gardens. Online tributes may be made at www.RobertsFuneralHome.com. In lieu of flowers, Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s or Doctors Without Borders.
Michael was born November 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, California to Charles W. and Dorothy K. Kern (Keeney). He spent his earliest years in the LA zoo where his parents were the zookeepers. By the age of 12 he achieved the distinguished rank of Eagle scout. In high school and college, he lettered in both tennis and cross country, and maintained an interest in both throughout his life.
He received his Bachelor of Arts from Whittier College, and his Master of Science and Doctorate from Washington State University. After a 2-year post-doc at Cornell University he joined the Fordham University Biology department. He later accepted a professorship at the College of Wooster in the Biology department where he taught from 1976 until 2005 and occupied the Horace Mateer Chair. He continued to do ornithological research until the 2018. During his tenure he was invited by the Educational Testing Service to grade and eventually create questions for the SAT.
While Mike enjoyed many activities, he had 3 favorites. One was climbing hills and mountain (especially those in Wales, where he traveled annually to study a colony of pied flycatchers). In addition to climbing every hill he passed, he loved river and ocean cruises (from which he and Alice visited much of the Western world). But his favorite activity was biking, running, and hiking with his sons.
Those who knew Mike would agree that he had an unusually strong sense of right and wrong, honesty, and fairness. He didn’t see gender or race, he saw all people as individuals. All would also agree that he was an excellent teacher, due to his strong work ethic, and genuine interest in education and his students’ well-being. As one of his students shared at his retirement, “the College [of Wooster] and the Biology department are losing a truly great professor with your retirement, because you are one of those gifted people who understands how to teach and relate with others effectively, and you obviously love to do it.”
On a lighter side, he delighted in games (Monopoly Deal, bridge, suduku, and Euchre were among his favorites), gardening (known for his raspberry jam), and working with wood.
Mike married Alice G. Plotner on February 21, 1961 and will be deeply missed by his wife of 58 years. He is also survived by his 3 sons and their wives (Bob and Terry, Jeff and Alicia, and Sean and Rhonda), 4 grandchildren and their spouses (Daniel and Erin Kern, Kevin and Leslie Janezic, Claire Kern, and Benjamin Kern), 5 great-grandchildren (Heidi, Clara, Bridget, and Edith Janezic, and Adaline Kern), and sister (Bonni Carr).
The family wishes to thank the staffs at Wooster Community Hospital and LifeCare Hospice for their wonderful care, and special thanks to Dr. Prah.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Doctors Without Borders, USA
P.O. Box 5030, Hagerstown MD 21741