Ed KernanEd Kernan (Two Harbors High School Class of 1944), a charter member of the Two Harbors High School Athletic Hall of Fame, and one of the city’s greatest athletes, passed away peacefully in Eau Claire, Wis., Sept. 29, 2011, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease.
Ed Kernan (Two Harbors High School Class of 1944), a charter member of the Two Harbors High School Athletic Hall of Fame, and one of the city’s greatest athletes, passed away peacefully in Eau Claire, Wis., Sept. 29, 2011, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. His three children and wife, Aleen (also in the class of 1944), were with him.
While at Two Harbors, Kernan (nicknamed “Punky”) earned 10 varsity letters. There were three each in football, basketball and track. He also won the school’s first varsity tennis letter.
He was the captain of the 1944 Agates basketball team, and the Big 6 Conference scoring champion in 1943 and 1944, establishing new conference scoring records each year. He earned all-conference and all-district honors in basketball in 1943 and 1944.
In track, he won four first place medals at the 1944 district meet.
He was the quarterback and leading scorer for the Agates football team.
He also played American Legion baseball, and was named a Legion scholar-athlete. Kernan was inducted into the Two Harbors Athletic Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1997.
Kernan enlisted in the Army Air Corps following Pearl Harbor and began Cadet training upon graduation in the spring of 1944. World War II ended before he saw combat duty and he enrolled at the University of Minnesota in December of 1945 following an honorable discharge.
As a freshman at Minnesota, Kernan quickly won a starting guard position and Gophers coach Dave McMillan once called him “the greatest freshman basketball player ever” at Minnesota. From 1946 to 1948, he won three letters in basketball at Minnesota. During those years, he was the only Gopher player to score more than 100 points in all three years, was the highest scoring guard in the Big 10, and won honorable mention all-Big 10 honors all three years. He averaged more than 10 points per game in Big 10 games for his career and was the Gopher’s second-leading scorer all three years.
On New Year’s Eve in 1945, Kernan outscored George Mikan (17 to 11) as the Gophers upset No. 1-ranked and defending national champion DePaul at Williams Arena by a score of 45-36. The feat was noted in the Jan. 31, 2003, Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of the most significant events in the history of Williams Arena.
On New Year’s Eve, 2005, Kernan was honored as honorary captain for the Gopher game against Oral Roberts – 60 years after the victory over DePaul.
While at Minnesota, he won the Silver Spur award for service to the community and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
Following his graduation in 1948, he married Barbara (Bobbie) Iverson, of Bayfield, Wis., a former Sweetheart of Sigma Chi.
Kernan was awarded the 50-year diamond “M” pin in 1996, and was named to the University of Minnesota “M” Club Hall of Fame in 2010.
Following his athletic career, Kernan taught and coached at Robbinsdale High School from 1948 to 1953. His 1950 Robins basketball team finished second in the state to Duluth Central. At the time, Kernan was the youngest (23) coach in Minnesota state basketball tournament history.
After Robbinsdale, Kernan moved to Wisconsin’s Northland College in Ashland, where he served as athletic director, head basketball and baseball coach, and assistant football coach until 1963. His Lumberjack basketball teams won the Badger-Gopher conference title four times and never finished lower than third place. The Lumberjacks also made three NAIA tournament appearances under Kernan. He was named to the Northland College Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and the school’s fitness center is named for him. While in Ashland, he also co-founded the Ashland Little League and was the league’s first president in 1960.
In 1965, Kernan left coaching and education and began a successful 24-year business career that included 10 years as the administrative director for the Cleveland office of Price Waterhouse and 14 years as the administrative director for the Sidley & Austin law firm. He retired in 1989.
Kernan was preceded in death by his parents, Edward James and Edith (Scott) Kernan of Two Harbors; his wife of 49 years, Barbara (Iverson); and his brother-in-law, Granville Zimmer of Houston, Texas.
He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Aleen (Welch) of Two Harbors; children, Edward James Kernan III and his wife Laureen of Orono, Barbara Lee Kernan of Eau Claire, and James Erick Kernan and his wife Jo Barth-olomew of Menomonie, Wis.; 10 grandchildren, Jessica Lee Kernan of Venice, Calif., Amanda Louise Roberson and her husband Cory of Knightstown, Ind., Edward James Kernan IV of New York; Jess Angus McCullough and his wife Harmony of Duluth; Graham Scott McCullough of Eau Claire; James Erick Kernan, Jr. and Caitlin McDermott Kernan of Palatine, Ill., Megan Kathleen Kernan, John Patrick Kernan and Catherine Marie Kernan of Orono; and three great-grandchildren, Michael and Anna Roberson and Cora Evelyn McCullough. He is also survived by a sister-in-law, Evelyn Betsy Zimmer; a nephew, Robert Neal Zimmer; a niece, Betsy Presler and numerous cousins.
A visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Two Harbors before an 11 a.m. service. Burial will be at Lakeview Cemetery. A light lunch will follow the service.
Memorials may be made in Ed’s name to the Lake County Historical Society or to the Iron River (Wis.) Lakes Association.