The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Daily Item Obituaries

October 3, 2012

Robert M. Kearns, 92, Reading

READING — Robert M. Kearns, 92, of Maple Avenue, died on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at Reading Hospital.

Robert, known by his family and many friends as “Bob,” was born Jan. 23, 1920, in Beavertown, Snyder County. Kearns was a son of Charles M. and Margaret (McCormick) Kearns. Charles was an inventor and builder of auto buggies, cars and fire trucks. Margaret taught in the public school systems in Snyder and Mifflin counties for many years.

Kearns’ early education was completed in the Beavertown public schools. He graduated from Beaver Vocational High School and went on to attend Pennsylvania State University, graduating in 1942.

Following graduation, Kearns enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps and served for two years before obtaining a commission as second lieutenant through attendance at Officers Candidate School in Miami Beach, Fla. Following commissioning, he served as an aircraft engineering officer in a heavy bomb group operating B-24 bombers at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. During his military service, Kearns attended eight schools, including an eight-week course for Army, Navy and Marine officers at Pratt and Whitney in Hartford, Conn., and a course at Chanute Field on B-29 aircraft. During his military service, Bob married Marie Pauline Wetzel, of Pittsburgh, the love of Bob’s life.

Upon discharge from the Army in 1945, Bob moved the family to Springfield, N.J., where he began his career with Carpenter Technology, of Reading, responsible for building a plant in Union, N.J., to manufacture stainless steel tubing. Kearns held several management positions in construction, engineering and manufacturing until moving his family to Tulsa, Okla., in 1960 to continue his career with Carpenter Technology in field sales. After a successful sales assignment in Tulsa, Kearns was transferred back to Flemington, N.J., assuming responsibility for larger accounts before moving to Reading in 1970 to become sales manager for national accounts. Kearns retired from Carpenter at age 65. During his sales career, he captured numerous sales awards, including four Gold Ingots, given in recognition of top sales. He was known by many as “Mr. Carpenter.”

Bob loved the Presbyterian Church. He was ordained an elder in 1952 at the age of 32 and served four churches as an elder or trustee during his life. The churches were in Springfield, Basking Ridge and Flemington, as well as his most recent service at First Presbyterian Church, of Reading. In 1989, Kearns was responsible for the 175th anniversary of the church in Reading, where the featured speaker was Dr. Richard Halverson, chaplain of the U.S. Senate. Bob’s interests were education, worship and the hand bell program. His special concern for each day was to build the body of Christ and to “pave the way for each person we meet to walk the trail.” Few would argue the point that Bob’s gift was encouragement of other people.

Bob also had a strong interest in making furniture from old wood. His love for roses and his interest in gardening developed over the years.

Kearns was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Margaret; an older brother, Charles M. Kearns Jr. of Tucson, Ariz.; a younger brother, John P. Kearns, of Silver Springs, Md.; and Bob’s beloved wife of 55 years and mother of his three children, Marie.

Surviving Bob are son, Robert W. Kearns and his wife, Anne, of Hartsville, S.C.; daughter, Sue Ann Kearns-Track and her husband, Hans, of Framingham, Mass.; and son, William D. Kearns, Ph.D., of Tampa, Fla. Grandchildren are granddaughter, Christine Nicole Turnbach and her husband, Steven, of Okinawa, Japan; grandson, Robert H. Kearns, of Winston-Salem, N.C.; grandson, John Taylor Kearns, of Columbia, S.C.; granddaughter, Anna Fleming Kearns, of Florence, S.C.; and great-grandchildren are Alexandra and Tyler Turnbach, of Okinawa, Japan. Also surviving are one brother, Richard L. Kearns and his wife, Margarita, of Beavertown; sister-in-law, Edith Kearns, of Silver Springs, Md.; and six nephews and five nieces.

Funeral arrangements are being directed by the Pheasant Funeral Home, Beavertown. Burial will be in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Beavertown, at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 13. The family will receive visitors at the funeral home between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Bob will be buried in the plot with his wife, Marie, the granddaughter of Charles L. Wetzel, who laid out the cemetery in 1914. The graveside service will be conducted by the Rev. Mark Peake, of Monterey, Calif. The Rev. Peake had a special place in Bob’s heart as Bob was a mentor of the Rev. Peake through grade school, high school, college and seminary. Assisting will be the Rev. Robert Reed VanDeusen.

A memorial service for Bob also is planned in Reading at First Presbyterian Church, 37 S. Fifth St., at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, with the Rev. Mark Peake and the Rev. Tim Sanger officiating. The family will receive friends in the church parlor following the service.

Memorials can be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Reading Bell Choir, 37 S. Fifth St., Reading, PA 19602, or to the Robert M. and Marie W. Kearns Memorial Scholarship Fund, Penn State Berks, P.O. Box 7009, Reading, PA 19610-6009.

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