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Obituary: Capt. Donald H. Kern, 94

A veteran of WWII in the Pacific, Capt. Kern earned degrees from MIT and Harvard, was an avid sailor and was father to two sons, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Capt. Donald H. Kern
Capt. Donald H. Kern

Capt. Donald H. Kern, 94 (USN, retired), of Saunderstown, died peacefully Saturday night, Jan. 18, at South County Hospital. He was preceded by his wives, Catherine L. (Chagnon) Kern and Frances E. (Sargent) Kern. Born in Pawtucket, he was the son of the late Herman W. Kern and Clara (Dawson) Kern. 

Capt. Kern joined the Navy in 1942 upon graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in naval architecture and marine engineering. After proudly serving in the Pacific during WWII, he completed his post-graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, leading to the award of a professional engineering degree in naval engineering and construction. In 1968, Capt. Kern completed his post-graduate studies at Harvard University with the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School. 

He was the commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard of Portsmouth, N.H., with responsibility to manage the operation of the shipyard with a complement of approximately 8,000 people, and was engaged in the construction and overhaul of nuclear-attack submarines and the overhaul and conversion of fleet ballistic missile submarines. Capt. Kern retired from the U.S. Navy with over 29 years of service.

Don Kern was an avid corinthian sailor from his teenage years and very successfully raced the family sailboat, “Fireball,” on Narragansett Bay and surrounding waters. He was the president of Narragansett Bay Yachting Association and represented the Bay to U.S. Sailing organization.

He leaves two sons, Donald S. Kern and his wife Lynne of Bristol, and Robert D. Kern and his wife Patty of Saunderstown. He was the loving grandfather of five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. 

His Memorial Service will be held Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m. in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 55 Main St., Wickford, with full military honors to follow. Burial will be private. Calling hours are respectfully omitted. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be sent in his memory to the American Cancer Society, 931 Jefferson Blvd, Suite 3004, Warwick, R.I. 02886 or to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675, will be appreciated. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Cranston-Murphy Funeral Home of Wickford.  For online messages of condolence, kindly visit www.CranstonMurphy.com.

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