LEWISTOWN - Robert M. Kearns, 92, of Maple Avenue, died on 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. He was the son of Charles M. and Margaret (McCormick) Kearns. Charles was an inventor and builder of auto buggies, cars and fire trucks. Margret taught in the public school systems in Snyder and Mifflin counties for many years.
Mr. Kearns' early education was completed in the Beavertown public schools. He graduated from Beaver Vocational High School and went on to attend college at Penn State University, graduating in 1942.
After graduation, Mr. Kearns enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served for two years before obtaining a commission to second lieutenant through attendance at Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Fla. After commissioning, he served as aircraft engineering officer in a heavy bomb group operating B-24 bombers at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. During his military service, Mr. Kearns attended eight different 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 the love of his life, Marie Pauline Wetzel, of Pittsburgh.
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, and was responsible for building a plant in Union, N.J., to manufacture stainless steel tubing. Mr. 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, Mr. Kearns was transferred back to Flemington, N.J., assuming responsibility for larger accounts before moving to Reading in 1970 to become sales manager at national accounts. Mr. Kearns retired from Carpenter at age 65. During his sales career, he captured numerous sales awards, including four Gold Ingots given in recognition for top sales. He was known by many as "Mr. Carpenter."
Bob loved the Presbyterian church. He was ordained as 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, N.J., as well as his most recent service at First Presbyterian Church of Reading. In 1989, Mr. Kearns was responsible for the 175th anniversary of the church in Reading, where the featured speaker was Dr. Richard Halverson, chaplain, 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.
Mr. Kearns was preceded in death by: his parents, Charles and Margret; brothers, Charles M. Kearns Jr. of Tucson, Ariz.; a younger brother, John P. Kearns, of Silver Springs, Md.; and his beloved wife of 55 years and mother of his three children, Marie.
Surviving are: sons, Robert W. Kearns and his wife, Anne, of Hartsville, S.C., and William D. Kearns, Ph.D., of Tampa, Fla; daughter, Sue Ann Kearns-Track and her husband, Hans, of Framingham, Mass.; grandchildren, Christine Nicole Turnbach and her husband, Steven, of Okinawa, Japan, Robert H. Kearns, of Winston-Salem, N.C., John Taylor Kearns, of Columbia, S.C., and Anna Fleming Kearns of Florence, S.C.; great-grandchildren, Alexandra and Tyler Turnbach, of Okinawa, Japan; one brother, Richard L. Kearns and his wife, Margarita, of Beavertown; a sister-in-law, Edith Kearns, of Silver Springs, Md.; six nephews; and five nieces.
Funeral arrangements are being directed by Pheasant Funeral Home, Beavertown. Family will receive visitors from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the funeral home. Burial will be at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 13, 2012, at the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Beavertown. 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. Rev. Peake had a special place in Bob's heart as Bob was a mentor to Rev. Peake through grade school, high school, college and seminary. The Rev. Robert Reed VanDeusen will assist.
A memorial service for Bob is also planned at 3 p.m. Oct. 14, 2012, at First Presbyterian Church, Fifth Street, Reading, with the Revs. Mark Peake and Tim Sanger officiating. The family will receive friends in the church parlor after the service.
Memorial donations can be made to The First Presbyterian Church of Reading Bell Choir, 37 S. 55th 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.