Many leaders in South Bend agree that Joe Kernan helped shape South Bend into the city that it is today.
Kernan served in the Navy during the Vietnam War before returning to his hometown, South Bend. During the war he was held as a prisoner along with other American POWs. He was elected as Mayor of South Bend for three consecutive terms before moving into state politics.
Many people in South Bend remember Kernan for what they describe as his positive, friendly nature and what he contributed to the city during his time as mayor.
Steve Luecke succeeded Kernan as South Bend Mayor and served on South Bend's Common Council during Kernan’s first mayoral term.
“Joe was a terrific leader. He had a great vision for the city and he had a great love for the City of South Bend. He brought out fierce loyalty in his friends, his family, and the community, ” Luecke said.
Kernan was known for helping establish the South Bend Center for the Homeless and for keeping minor league baseball in town.
Joe Hart is the president of the South Bend Cubs.
“Without Joe Kernan and his vision, there would be no minor-league baseball in South Bend and that’s hard to think about because this is a facility now that draws people from 60 or 70 miles away on a frequent basis to visit our community and it gives us the opportunity to showcase South Bend and all it has to offer,” Hart said.
Reverend Edward ‘Monk’ Malloy is a former president of the University of Notre Dame and attended Notre Dame alongside Kernan. Malloy says Kernan helped strengthen the relationship between the University and the South Bend community.
“I always found him to be a very upbeat andenergetic guy who wanted to serve the community well. I think he saw opportunities that he could make South Bend a better place and I was all in favor of that,” Malloy said.
Funeral arrangements for Kernan are being handled by Welsheimer’s Funeral Home in South Bend. There will be no public services at this time due to the pandemic.