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Verna L. Kern

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Verna L. Kern Obituary
Verna L. Kern


Verna L. Kern, 85, 2200 Hamilton Dr., Ames, died at home on March 11. The daughter of Walter C. and Cora Norton Lathrop was born Nov. 1, 1927 at Woodstock, IL. She had resided in Ames since March 1950. Death occurred in sleep, hastened by several ailments related to heart and lungs.

Verna is survived by her husband of almost 65 years, K. Robert Kern; two children, Karl Robert II (Ann) Kern, Princeton, MN, and Barbara L. Carlson (David), Boise, ID; and three granddaughters: Frances Kern, St. Paul, MN, Jennifer Carlson (Sam) Govey, suburban London, U.K., and Stephanie Carlson, Boise, ID.

Living in the village of Greenwood in northern Illinois, Verna graduated from Woodstock High School where she won honors in music (French horn) and sports (softball and basketball). She entered the University of Illinois in 1945, majoring in women's physical education, financing her full college costs by work in the university library and factory work at home during vacations.

Verna and husband Bob met at the University of Illinois and married there in June 1948. After two years of living and working in Decatur, IL, they came to Ames in March 1950 for Bob to enroll in graduate school (technical journalism). By the time their children were in school, he had joined the Iowa State faculty, and Verna had resumed her interrupted education.

Verna took her baccalaureate degree in 1963 (women's physical education, then under the College of Home Economics); she was cited as the high-ranking scholar in the college for that year. She joined the Iowa State faculty in physical education in the fall of 1963, first teaching individual sports: bowling, archery, and tennis (coaching the tennis team, then a club sport before the federal Title IX)

Before the end of the 1960s, Verna had been given responsibility for academic advising in the physical education department. In ensuing years, some other departments of the university adopted her method and materials for planning and monitoring individual student performance in their curriculum.

After 20 years in the department, Verna took her retirement early. She devoted some time to travel and living abroad during some of her husband's international consulting assignments. These included time in Mexico, The Netherlands, Fiji, Samoa, and visits to many other European and Pacific states.

Verna also was a tennis coach and player, active in tennis associations in Ames, several times Ames women's singles champion and, with Bob, mixed-doubles winner. She was a member of the Ames Racquet Club from its origin and played many years with the so-called mature women's doubles at their thrice-weekly outings at the Racquet Club.

Verna and her family took up lake sailing in 1966, later establishing their own vacation home on Lake Kabekona in north-central Minnesota. In their summers there, sailing, wind-surfing, and kayaking were major activities, along with leadership and membership in the Kabekona Lake Association.

A small person, just over 5 feet at fullest development, Verna had difficulty finding desired clothing on the retail racks. She mastered sewing and tailoring to the extent of furnishing almost the entirety of her wardrobe by her own talent.

From her first diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1981, she survived six forms of cancer (including two other lymphomas) with expert counsel of her physician, Dr. M. Michael Guffy, of the McFarland Clinic. Another Clinic M.D., Dr. Peter Buck (an Ames High classmate of her daughter, Barbara) successfully replaced two knee joints and repaired a shoulder, permitting Verna many more years of tennis, cross-country skiing, and roller-blading.

No plans have yet been formed for services or memorials.

Published in Des Moines Register on Mar. 14, 2013
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