April 16, 1933 ~ August 29, 2013
Roger Kerns died Thursday, August 29th in Sanford Health Palliative Care Unit. He was born April 16, 1933, in Brookings, SD. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from South Dakota State University and a doctorate from the University of South Dakota.
He was founder of Special Olympics in South Dakota in 1968. He also started Camp Happiness on the banks of the Missouri River in Vermillion, SD for exceptional children which provided recreation, fun and happiness for those children who found it hard to fit in in other camping situations. He moved his family to Fargo and NDSU in 1971. In 1972, he enlisted the help of some of his students at the college and organized the first Special Olympics in North Dakota. And in all of those years, he was a member of the Army National Guard in South Dakota obtaining the rank of colonel.
He held many positions at NDSU over the years. He was a full professor of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department and was elected president of the Central District of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. He was also a director of the Office of Student Academic Affairs, Registrar, and Dean of the College of University Studies. He served as executive dean of the NDSU-Bottineau Branch for one year.
He was involved in many community activities. He is a past chair of the Cass-Clay American Red Cross; Charter President and member of the Fargo Rough Rider Kiwanis; Chair, Vocational Training Center Board of Directors; Member and past chair of the Fargo School Board; Fargo AirSho Board; Air Museum Board of Directors; Fargo School District Foundation; Southeast Human Services Board; Civil Air Patrol; and IRB of Pracs Institute.
He was inducted in the Special Olympics North Dakota Hall of Fame in 2002, received the Robert Feder Humanitarian Award in 2005, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Vocational Training Center in 2006.
Roger is survived by his wife Betty, children Laura (Rod) Jacobs, Steve (Stacey) and 4 grandchildren Kris and David Jacobs and Jessica and Sarah Kerns.
In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Special Olympics North Dakota or NDSU Development Foundation.