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George Frederick Kerner

George Frederick Kerner

George Frederick Kerner


- January 27, 2020

George was born March 5, 1921, the first of 12 children born to Fred and Anna (Willuweit) Kerner.  He grew up on a farm south of Gregory, SD, and attended Gregory High School, graduating in 1939.  Following high school, he attended college in Springfield, SD, for teaching.  He then taught country school for two years until he was drafted into the army during World War II, on September 8, 1942.  George was wounded during his service and hospitalized on March 29, 1945.  He was the leader of his platoon that was attacked by a tank; only two men in his platoon survived.  George was hit by shrapnel twice and would often tell the story of how a notebook he was carrying in his pocket was shredded, slowing down the bullet and saving his life.  He was awarded the Purple Heart on June 29, 1945.  He also received the Meritorious Unit Award.  He was honorably discharged from military service on October 27, 1945.

     After his military service, George used the GI bill to attend SDSU in Brookings and completed a degree in Engineering.  It was there that he met Inez Edith Westphal, who was at the time completing her associate’s degree in dietetics.

     George and Inez married June 13, 1949, in Onida, SD.  The couple made their home in Kansas City, MO, where George worked as an engineer and Inez worked at a women’s clothing store doing alterations and fittings.  They moved to Denver, CO, in 1961, and then back to Kansas City in 1966.  George retired in 1973, and the couple relocated to Sturgis, SD.  The couple rented a small home in Sturgis while George started building a home for them almost entirely by himself.

     George was an avid reader.  He would regularly go to the library and even in the recent years after he moved to an assisted living, he commented he was happy the library was within walking distance.  He read the newspaper daily.  He would often send newspaper clippings of articles he found of interest to his family.  As the first child of two native German speakers, George could speak German and loaned his language skills to his niece during her study abroad in Germany, translating family tree research she had located while living there.  Annually, he would ride along with his nephew on pheasant hunting trips back to Burke, SD, to visit his siblings.

     George Frederick Kerner, age 98, passed away on January 22, 2020, at Fort Meade VA Medical Center.

     George is survived by his sisters, Meta Cox of the Nursing Home in Lake Andes, SD, and Delores Muslik of Gregory, SD; and his brothers, L.H. Kerner of Gregory, SD, and Richard Kerner and LaMone Kerner, both of Burke, SD; and numerous nieces and nephews.  

     George was preceded in death by his wife, Inez (Westphal) Kerner; and siblings, Nedra Bickle, Dowain Kerner, Alvin Kerner, Lillian Morris, Fred Kerner, Jr., and Vivian Bahm.

     Visitation will be 10:00 a.m. at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.

     Graveside services will be at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis with Chaplain Randy Bradley officiating.

     Condolences may be sent to the family at www.kinkadefunerals.com.



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