May 21, 1921 - April 21, 2012 OKLAHOMA CITY Estella K. Kernan, affectionately known as "Tillie," passed away in her home in Oklahoma Ctiy on April 21, 2012. Her loving husband of 67 years, Phil, and devoted son, Phil, Jr., were at her bedside. They are her only surviving relatives. She passed away comfortably after a short illness and enjoyed life and socializing with friends up until the end. Tillie was born in Wellington, Kansas, in May of 1921 and attended college at TCU and graduated from Oklahoma University in 1942. Her college years as a Delta Gamma were some of her favorite times as she was social chairman her senior year and a beauty queen her junior year at OU. She remained active in Delta Gamma for 60 years after her graduation. Tillie went on to be one of the first Waves in the United States Navy, reaching the rank of Lieutenant JG in 1943. In her assignment in the code room in Washington, D.C., during World War II, she met her husband, Phil, her commanding officer, and they were married in November 1944. She told the story many times how Phil had given her a note ostensibly asking her to check it for "coding and sending" that said "How about a date?" Her response was an all business response: "The note is just fine, Sir." Tillie went on after the war to have one of the lost professions: housewife, mother and doting caretaker to her son and husband. Tillie, however, decided, when her son was old enough to be on his own, to become politically active and wrote letters to the editor that were published at least monthly for over 40 years. After her son left for college, she threw herself into volunteer work that included positions on the Urban League Board, volunteer teaching at Mark Twain elementary school, "Reach to Recovery" after her successful bout with breast cancer in 1978, and later in life volunteering with her husband at OU Geriatric Medical School as a mentor to students and aide to teachers. As Tillie had survived four cancers and numerous childhood illnesses, she was a tireless advisor on medical issues to her friends, and taking strict heed to what the doctors told her to do, she conquered her problems and lived a healthy, long life. Everyone who knew Tillie will remember her as a wonderful, energetic and fun to be with person, always willing to give of her time and energies to help others. Tillie has asked, as to be expected, that she not have any service and that anyone who wishes to remember her would donate to the
and go about living a healthy and productive life themselves.
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Published in The Oklahoman on Apr. 23, 2012