A legacy of goodness: Long-time Liberty Twp., Butler County political leader dies as works live on

David Kern is pictured in June 2010 after being elected head of the Butler County Republican Party. Kern also served two 16-year stints - ending in 2016 - as a Liberty Twp Trustee. Kern died at his home Tuesday after a long illness. He was remembered by local officials as a powerful but polite foundation for Liberty's booming growth in recent decades. (File Photo\Journal-News)
David Kern is pictured in June 2010 after being elected head of the Butler County Republican Party. Kern also served two 16-year stints - ending in 2016 - as a Liberty Twp Trustee. Kern died at his home Tuesday after a long illness. He was remembered by local officials as a powerful but polite foundation for Liberty's booming growth in recent decades. (File Photo\Journal-News)

The only time veteran Butler County politician David Kern asked the public to do anything for him was simply and politely request their vote on election day.

For the rest of the time the devoted and modest Liberty Twp. officeholder, community volunteer and businessman’s life was always about what he instead could do for the public, said Kern’s family and those who worked with him.

The long, public service legacy of Kern - intertwined with Liberty Twp. and Butler County politics – ended this week with the passing of the beloved community icon.

Kern died at his Liberty Twp. home Tuesday after a long battle with lung and pancreatic cancer, according to his family. He was 79.

One of his three daughter, Frances Kern Mennone, told the Journal-News her father’s decades of popularity with the public he served was largely due to his steadfast honesty.

“Dad was such a straight shooter. If you wanted to know what Dad thought, you just asked him,” said Mennone.

His public service and personal contributions were many and started early with a stint as a volunteer firefighter in the 1950s when he was also helping to run his family’s tree nursery business.

Kern, a former head of the Butler County Republican Party and a 32-year veteran of Liberty Twp. Trustees – during two 16-year periods - was a big-hearted politician, said those who worked with him citing his legacy of volunteerism and genuine love of people.

And the U.S. Army veteran, who was a passionate advocate for area parks and other green spaces, got things done in many ways that will live on.

“As a highly respected, small business owner and Liberty Township Trustee for 32 years, Dave Kern’s passion and commitment to the residents and businesses of Liberty Twp. is legendary,” said Joe Hinson, president and CEO of the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance.

The township’s ongoing distinction as one of Ohio’s most dynamically growing communities wouldn’t have happened without Kern’s leadership contributions over decades, said Liberty Twp. Trustee Tom Farrell, who was on the governing board with Kern when he left office in 2016.

“There’s no way we are where we are now without him. He gave decades of his service, while never asking for anything in return. He was one of the nicest, most unselfish gentlemen I have ever known,” he said.

“He was dedicated to his family and the township and he’ll always have a real special place in my heart as a mentor,” said Farrell, who served on the governing board with Kern finally retired from politics in 2016.

Liberty Township’s on-going distinction as one of Ohio’s most dynamically growing communities wouldn’t have happened without Kern’s leadership contributions over decades, said Farrell.

“There’s no way we are where we are now without him. He gave decades of his service while never asking for anything in return. He was one of the nicest, most unselfish gentlemen I have ever known,” he said.

According to a family statement: “He loved hunting and fishing, and cast a legendary shadow sitting on his boat in the blue waters off the shores of Neahtawanta, Michigan. He never met a stranger and delighted in a good conversation. He loved our country and working the polls on election day.”

Kern is survived by his wife Katy and their four children, Adelaide Leitzel (Lance), David Kern (Dorian), Frances Kern Mennone and Thekla Kern Gordon, by his sister, Lisbeth Kern and by eleven grandchildren.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held on Saturday, April 24, at 10 a.m. at the Kern family farm, 6099 Millikin Road, Liberty Twp. Services will be outdoors and tented, with a celebration of David’s life to follow. Private burial will be at Spring Grove.

The family asked that in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Liberty Township Parks Fund, c/o Liberty Township, 5021 Winners Circle, Liberty Township, OH 45011. The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty has also set up a link on its website for memorials for the Parks Fund in remembrance of Kern.

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