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Nolan Kellerman Kerschner, 89, of Norwalk, died peacefully at home on Monday, October 8th.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 68 years, Barbara, their children, Steve Kerschner, Amy Jimenez, Andrew Kerschner and Sarah Wappler Balsley, and their spouses, ten grandchildren and 1.5 great grandchildren.
Nolan was born in 1924 in Columbus, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University. He enlisted in the Army during the Second World War and attained the rank of lieutenant. He met Barbara while she was a student at Auburn University and he was stationed nearby in Fort Benning, GA, serving as a paratroop instructor. He courted her by dropping small parachute parcels of rationed goods (cigarettes and nylon stockings) from the jump plane while training soldiers for eventual battles in Europe and Asia. They married when Barbara was eighteen and Nolan was twenty; Nolan had to secure permission from his commanding officer to marry because he was not yet of age.
After the war Nolan and Barbara moved to Connecticut and Nolan began work as a builder. He founded Kerschner Construction, which expanded into The Kerschner Companies, a real estate development firm that built thousands of homes ranging from first-time residences for low-income families, to single family homes, to affordable and luxury condominiums. Barbara, and many of their children, worked with Nolan in the firm, and several of his children still work in the industry today.
Nolan was an advocate of peace. He believed that a civil society should endeavor to improve not just its own citizens, but to help advance and care for the world at large. Prior to becoming a real estate developer, Nolan was the executive director of SANE, a non-profit organization that worked to restrain the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world. He was a lifelong, active, Democrat who volunteered and contributed to local, state and national campaigns. He believed that individual effort could produce real change, and that the strength of our country was dependent on equal opportunity being afforded to all. From 1956 onward, he raised his family in a waterfront homeowner's association in Norwalk, Connecticut called Village Creek, which was the first intentionally interracial community in Connecticut. He volunteered actively in the community for decades, served as its president many times, and was especially loved for organizing opportunities for old and young to play together often.
Nolan was an avid reader. He loved classical music, a roaring fire, and playing with his grandchildren and great grandchild. He played tennis for over 60 years, sailed in Long Island Sound, swam daily, skied, and continually gathered his family and friends for Sunday brunch. The door and the pool were always open at Nolan and Barbara's home of 56 years in the Creek and they made all who entered feel like family. For Nolan, family is what mattered most.
Published in The Hour on Oct. 10, 2013