Michael 'Mike' P. Kearns
Michael "Mike" P. Kearns, 69, passed away Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at home with his family by his side, after a brief battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Mike was born March 20, 1952, in La Crosse, to Charlie and LaVonne (Walcker) Kearns. He graduated from La Crescent High School in 1970 and Brown Institute of Broadcasting in 1972. He married his high school sweetheart, Dawn Jenks, March 27, 1976. They were blessed with two children, Erin and Patrick.
Mike spent his 43-year career at WKTY radio station on AM580, taking over his father's weekday morning "Lead Balloon Show" and play-by-play broadcasting. He cherished the relationships and friendships he formed while promoting local businesses on what he called the "world's worst radio show." Mike's passion was broadcasting area high school and college sports, which he continued into his retirement. He was especially proud to broadcast the high school State Championship games and the UW-LaCrosse football National Championships.
Mike founded and organized the annual Charlie Kearns Memorial Golf Tournament, held at Drugan's Castle Mound for 33 years. He began the "Tapping of the Golden Can" ceremony in 1987, which he proclaimed to be the unofficial start to Oktoberfest. He served as Mardi Gras Rex in 1995 and Oktoberfest Maple Leaf Parade Marshall in 2002. Mike, along with his father Charlie, was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2009. He received numerous awards and accolades over the years for his involvement in radio and in the community. Mike retired from WKTY on Dec. 23, 2016, which was declared "Mike Kearns Day" in La Crosse.
Mike loved golfing, fishing, cooking, and solving the world's problems at the "smart table" at the Bluffside. He looked forward to annual trips to Arizona in March, weeks up North with his family, and weekends spent with his granddaughters, who adored their Papa. He lived life to the fullest and will always be remembered for his quick wit, infectious laugh, and smile that lit up the room.
He is survived by his "first wife" of 45 years, Dawn; children, Erin (Dan) Wille, and Patrick Kearns; three granddaughters, Rylie, Reagan, and Rory Wille; and special grand pup, Buddy; brother, Pat (Margaret) Kearns; brothers-in-law, Ryan (Nancy) Jenks, and Robin (Lorraine) Jenks; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister. Connie; and in-laws, Dean and Doris Jenks.
A private family memorial service was held and a celebration of life is planned for July 31, at the Myrick Park Main Shelter. Details will be provided at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Mike's name are preferred and greatly appreciated. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the doctors, nurses, and staff at Gundersen Health System and the wonderful care they took with Mike.
Schumacher-Kish Funeral and Cremation Services of La Crosse is assisting the family. Online condolences may be submitted at www.schumacher-kish.com.