Woodcarver and retired theater professor’s legacy lives on


Photo provided by the Kern family

Ronald C. Kern, a retired professor of theater at Miami University, had a passion for family, teaching, and woodcarving.

By Rebecca Smith

Ronald C. Kern, 96, a retired professor in the Miami University Theater Department, died April 21, at Baptist Floyd Hospital, New Albany, Indiana.

Kern was a loving husband, father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather, said his daughter, Katharine Sadler, who said he had loved his time teaching at Miami. 

The Theater Department has an annual scholarship in Kern’s name, in addition to two other scholarships at different universities where he taught, according to Sadler.

The scholarship at Miami was created in his name by Dr. John Altman, an adjunct professor in the Farmer School of Business and an old friend of Kern’s. The other two were created in his memory by former students.   

Kern was born Oct. 12, 1924, to the late Chester and Gladys Kern in Sandusky, Ohio. His father was a pastor, so the family moved around during his childhood.

He served in World War II from 1943-1946 with the Army. Upon returning home, he went on to Bowling Green State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He then earned his master’s degree in education at Miami. 

Next, he traveled to England to attend the University of Bristol and received a doctorate in drama in 1958. He was one of the first Americans to get a doctoratefrom that university and was the first student there to get a doctorate in drama, Sadler said. 

Kern returned to Miami and taught in the theater department for several years. His two daughters, Katharine and Sarah, were born in the Oxford area. 

In addition to his love for teaching, Kern had a passion for woodcarving. He did this for over 70 years and would occasionally sell or give his work to others.

“I met Ron when he donated the Nativity Set he carved to church. Over the years, we became good friends,” Cora Flispart of New Albany said on his funeral home memorial page. 

According to his daughter, he continued woodcarving until the day he could not hold the materials any longer.

In addition to his daughter Katharine, Kern is survived by his other daughter, Sarah Kern; brother, David E. Kern; 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

“He was funny and smart.,” said Sadler. “I grew up with a lot of laughter.” 

Services were held  at Naville & Seabrook Funeral Home, New Albany, Indiana. He was buried next to his wife, Dorothy, in Antioch Christ Church Cemetery, New Albany. The family requests memorials are made to St. John Presbyterian Church, New Albany, Indiana. Condolences can be made through the funeral home’s tribute wall.