As promised, here’s the obituary for Charlie/Dad from his memorial service – a 2 minute read. A huge and eternal thanks to all who made it possible and beautiful – and all who were there in Zoom and/or in Spirit 🙂 We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and care.
We’re looking forward to keeping in touch with folks who knew Dad (and of course, those who didn’t), swapping tall tales, anecdotes, and memories. In the meantime, we’re sending everyone love, light, and well wishes.
Alex (for the Kern-folk)
Charles Everett Kern II passed away peacefully on August 23, 2020 at the age of 86. He was surrounded by his wife of 57 years, Montague Levering Kern, and his children and grandchildren. Born in the District on March 8, 1934, Charlie was a sixth generation Washingtonian. He spent his early years on the 3700 block of T Street and on Volta Place, then moved to the 3800 block of Garrison Street in 1943. He lived at 3812 Garrison for the remaining 77 years of his life.
Charlie graduated from Ben W. Murch Elementary School, class of February 1946, where he and classmates planted Victory gardens during World War II. He also attended Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida, class of 1952; Princeton University, class of 1956; and Yale University Law School, class of 1961. Between 1956 and 1958, he served in the US Army in Frankfurt, West Germany at the Psychiatric Neurological Section of the 97th General Hospital. After a few years in private law practice, Charlie chose a career in public service, “going up to the Hill” in 1971 to work as a staff attorney in Congress, first on the Senate side and then in the US House of Representatives. He spent the bulk of his career working for the House Committee on the Judiciary, where he specialized in antitrust law. He was proud of his role in helping to break up the AT & T monopoly on telecommunications.
Charlie Kern was many things: a brilliant mind and generous heart; an outgoing introvert; a denizen of the District who knew DC “like the back of his hand”; a champion of economic justice, always “fighting for the little guy,” he said, and building bridges of bipartisanship from the 1970s to the 1990s. Charlie was a world traveler who hosted the world in his home; an avid collector of interesting things and people; a lover of great literature, classical music, genealogy, historical artifacts, coins, and just plain stuff. He was an inveterate storyteller with a trove of “Dad jokes.” He was an Episcopalian and Army veteran who married a beautiful Quaker pacifist from the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. He was a marcher for peace and civil rights – protesting Vietnam and joining the March on Washington. He was a cyclist with a fetching array of adorable hats; a kind neighbor and unofficial mayor of Garrison Street. He was a loving spouse, father, and grandfather – an adventurer, chess player, and faithful letter-writer who moonlighted for his kids as a poetic Tooth Fairy named Randolph the Rhyme Elf. Charlie was a rare person who lived so deeply in the past, yet was so fully present to others – on the phone, in the streets, by his fireplace. He was a dear old friend, a wise confidante, a beloved soul.
Charlie was active in organizations such as the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of DC, the Washington Numismatic Society, and the National Press Club, which his grandfather Charles Everett Kern helped establish. Charlie was a member of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church and also attended the Friends Meeting of Washington. Famously, he was fascinated by all things Czech and Slovak, and while he was not Czech, he was active in the Embassy community and had perhaps the largest collection of Czech literature in English translation this side of Prague. This library will be donated to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as the Charles Everett Kern II Collection.
Charlie is survived by his wife Montague, three sons, Christopher Winn Kern of Alexandria, VA, Alexander Levering Kern of Somerville, MA, and Deane Lindsey Kern, of Charles Town, WV; daughters in law Rebecca Grunko and Priscilla Rodd; grandchildren Elias Kern, Ruthanna Kern, Loki Kern, Zion Kern and Aurora Rodd, and many other beloved family members. Charlie Kern was a titan to his family, a source of strength and guidance, a deeply loving and socially committed man who loved information, people, and the endlessly fascinating adventure of being alive. He will be interred at Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown with his ancestors. He was first, and always, a family man. Charlie Kern, rest in peace and power in the Life that knows no end.