Fairfield school board member, county executive dies unexpectedly

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Fairfield school board member, county executive dies unexpectedly

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Jerome Kearns, a member of the Fairfield Board of Education and assistant director of Butler County Job and Family Services has died, according to officials with Butler County and the school system. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Jerome Kearns, a member of the Fairfield Board of Education and assistant director of Butler County Job and Family Services died Tuesday, according to officials with Butler County and the school system.

The 50-year-old father of three had more than 18 years experience working in the public sector in management positions.

An announcement was sent to Fairfield City Schools’ staffers and families Tuesday morning about Kearns’ death:

It stated in part:

“It is with deep sadness that we share the following news. Jerome Kearns, Vice President of the Fairfield Board of Education, passed away suddenly this morning.”

“Jerome was a fair man who always based his decisions as a board member on what was best for children in our schools. He had been on the board since 2008. He was a true friend of education; a deep thinker with a wry sense of humor who weighed all perspectives before sharing his opinion.”

“Knowing and working with Jerome made us all better educators, stewards and people. Please keep Jerome’s family and friends in your thoughts during this difficult time.”

A cause of death has not been released.

Kearns, who was a resident of Fairfield Twp., had served on the Fairfield school board since 2008.

Under Ohio law the remaining four members of the Fairfield school board will appoint a member to fill out his remaining term, which ends Dec. 31, 2019.

The board is next scheduled to meet on Jan. 12 for its annual organizational meeting, where it picks a president and vice president.

“We are all saddened by the loss of Jerome Kearns and will be keeping his family in our thoughts and prayers,” said Fairfield City Schools Superintendent Billy Smith. “Jerome cared deeply about our students and community, and our schools and community are better as a result of his service.”

In addition to serving on the Fairfield school board, Kearns was employed as the assistant director of Butler County Job and Family Services.

In 2015, county commissioners gave Ray Pater, who had been the executive director of the Child Support Enforcement Agency, the helm of Children Services, JFS and Ohio Means Jobs. Kearns, who had previously been the head of all three agencies, moved back to JFS and the workforce agency as the assistant director.

Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said she was “very saddened” to learn about Kearns’ death.

“He came in to work for the division of this board when we had some really difficult times with regard to the Children Services strike and the recession. We got to work with him closely and we got to know him, and it is a loss to his friends and Butler County government and our hearts go out to his wife and family,” she said.

Butler County Commissioner T.C. Rogers said, “since I’ve met Jerome I’ve come to be very fond of his efforts and compassion to those constituents which he serves and it’ll be a great loss for us to find someone else with that same compassion.”

Kearns, who was born in Columbus, had lived in Fairfield Twp. with his wife, Dawn, and their three children since 2004.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in social work from Ohio State University and a master’s certificate in state and local government contract management from George Washington University.

His community involvement included being a member of the Fairfield Township Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association and a board member of Shared Harvest Foodbank. He was also a member of Fairfield Kiwanis and board member of Workforce One Investment Board of Southwest Ohio.

Staff writer Denise G. Callahan contributed to this story.

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