James L. Kerns, 69, of Potlatch passed away at home on the family farm on May 20, 2019, of advanced Parkinson’s disease.
Jim was born December 6, 1949, at Swalwell, Alberta, to James C. and Gladys “Tory” (Keay) Kerns. The Kerns family moved to Garfield, Washington, in September of 1950 and to the family farm at Potlatch in 1952. There, he grew up in the house built by his great-grandfather and attended school in Potlatch, graduating in 1968. He attended the University of Idaho before leaving to join the National Guard in 1971.
The two loves of Jim’s life were family and farming. He married Deborah Lee on November 21, 1970, in Potlatch. During their 48 wonderful years of marriage, they raised three children. Tyrus was born in 1973, Shelby in 1975, and the birth of Kevin in 1983 completed the family. Jim was a loving son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, and uncle. Some of his favorite memories were of Kerns family reunions. His grandchildren, Megan and Caleb, brought much joy and laughter to the last two decades of his life.
In 1977, the family moved to Jim’s childhood home on the farm, where he lived until his death. He farmed in the Potlatch and Garfield areas his entire life, at times alongside his father, his brother, his son, and, in recent years, his grandson. His brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews, children, grandchildren, and cousins spent time working for him and catching rides with him in the combine or truck.
Jim will also be remembered by many as a coach and teammate. He enjoyed playing basketball and played on town teams, in Sunday pick-up games, and in Hoop Fest as long as he was able. He loved children and young people and found joy in coaching. He coached his sons and their friends in pee-wee baseball, Little League, and, in Kevin’s case, to an undefeated Babe Ruth season. In 1990, he started coaching basketball at Potlatch Jr.-Sr. High School where he enjoyed having a front row seat to many state tournaments.
Jim is survived by his wife Debbie, sons Ty and Kevin, daughter Shelby, daughters-in-law Teresa and Meyanka, granddaughter Megan, grandson Caleb, and his mother Tory. He is also survived by his brothers Robert, David, and Richard; sister Gladys; his wife’s siblings, Curtis Lee, Randy Lee, Robin Kammeyer, and Stacey Adair; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws. He was preceded in death by his father James and older brother Ralph.
Jim would be touched to know how many lives he influenced by simply being himself.
A memorial service will be held at the Garfield Christian Fellowship Church, 303 N Third Street, at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 8. A reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to the Potlatch Ambulance Fund, PO Box 63, Potlatch, ID 83855; Coast Transportation, 210 S. Main Street, Colfax, WA 99111; or a hospice of your choice.
Kramer Funeral Home, Palouse, WA is caring for the family.
Potlatch Ambulance Fund
PO Box 63, Potlatch ID 83855
Elite Home Health and Hospice
1370 Bridge Street, Clarkston WA 99403
210 S. Main, Colfax WA 99111