We Remember Those We Have Lost
MIDLOTHIAN, VA. -- George Francis Kerchner passed away quietly in his sleep at his home in Midlothian, Va. on Feb. 17, just five days short of his 94th birthday.
George was born in Baltimore on Feb. 22, 1918 to the late John and Caroline Kerchner. He worked as a security guard for the Pennsylvania Railroad and also at his family’s business, the Arundel Ice Cream Company. George married his high school sweetheart, the former Violet Irene Schuneman in 1938.
He enlisted in the US Army in June 1942 then volunteered for the elite US Army Rangers, later telling an interviewer that “if I was going to be in the Army, I was going in the best outfit there was.”
George joined the 2nd Ranger Battalion in December 1943 as a 2nd Lt and began training for what General Omar Bradley called, “… the toughest of any task assigned on June 6, 1944 (D-Day)” (Douglas Brinkley, “The Boys of Pt du Hoc”). George and his fellow Rangers, under the command of Col. James Rudder were to climb 100-foot cliffs under heavy German fire, then destroy six large German guns which were in position to fire down upon both Utah and Omaha beaches, as well as the sea lanes approaching the Allied landing zones.
While still on the beach, George assumed command of D Company when his fellow officers were either killed or severely wounded. Although later quoted in a 2011 Documentary by the Discovery Channel as saying he “didn’t feel like a hero,” both his men and his commanding officers felt otherwise. For his actions during their harrowing ordeal, George was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor. His commendation reads in part, “By his determined leadership and outstanding heroism, he led his company in the successful assault upon and captured the 155 mm enemy gun positions. While engaged in this operation, Lt Kerchner and 15 members of his organization were cut off from the main body and surrounded for two and a half days. He tenaciously and courageously held his position until relieved and was a constant inspiration and source of encouragement to his troops.”
Fifty years later, a fellow Ranger confided to one of Mr. Kerchner’s sons, “When we were surrounded for so long, I had started to cry and would have kept it up if it wasn’t for your dad jumping in my foxhole and holding me like a baby.”
In July of 1944, the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. announced on the Gary Moore-Jimmy Durante radio show, “In your honor Lt Kerchner, the makers of Camel cigarettes are sending to our fighters overseas, 400,000 Camel cigarettes.”
George was wounded three months later, shot through the shoulder while in action near the town of St Lo. After convalescing, he served out the remainder of the war as an infantry battle courses instructor. He then joined the National Guard, receiving his commission from Maryland Governor Herbert O’Conor in a signed letter dated Sept 10, 1946.
After the war, George returned to work at The Arundel and was eventually elected president. He grew the business to the point where their 36 combined dealer and company owned stores were selling more hand dipped ice cream than anyone else in the area.
As a child, George had once taken a train to Ocean City, decided he liked it and told his buddy at the time, “I’m going to retire to Ocean City before I am 55.” In 1970, he made good on that promise. As majority stockholder, he sold the Arundel to the Fairlanes Company, then bought the Chalet Apartments, a small hotel once located on the bay at 10th Street.
He enjoyed boating, fishing and everything about the slower pace of the Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He immersed himself in affairs at St Luke’s Catholic Church, the American Legion and the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association while teaching Safe Boating Courses for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He eventually sold the Chalet Apartments and moved across the Assawoman Bay to Ocean Pines where he was a founding member of the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Company.
George and Vi celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home in Ocean Pines shortly before she succumbed to cancer in January, 1989. George later met, fell in love with and married the former Kathryn (Kay) Fairchild, who survives him. George and Kay recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary together.
In addition to Vi, George is predeceased by his brother, John, and his sisters, Mary Lucille and Mary Loretta. In addition to Kay, George is survived by his daughter, Mary Lou Kerchner of Hebron, and his three sons, John F Kerchner of Denton, Thomas J Kerchner of Princess Anne and Gregory P Kerchner of Ellicott City. He is also survived by four grandsons, two great grandsons and two great granddaughters.
A celebration honoring George's life will be held on Friday, Feb. 24 at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church. The service will be at 10 a.m. The church is located at 8901 Winterpock Road, Chesterfield, Va.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to either The National D-Day Memorial, PO Box 77, Bedford, Va. 24523 or to Descendants of WWII Rangers, Ranger Ben Temkin, National Treasurer, 80-35 Springfield Blvd., Apt. 3M, Queens Village, NY 11427Jeanne Marie Kulski
OCEAN CITY -- Jeanne Marie Kulski, 55, of Ocean City, died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 at Coastal Hospice at the Lake in Salisbury.
Born in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Betty Jane Harris Owings of Baltimore and the late Albin Edward Owings, Jr.
Jeanne was a financial analyst for City Bank in Baltimore for 15 years. She also was an office manager for Kentucky Fried Chicken in Salisbury and worked in the office for Perdue and for the town of Ocean City as an office assistant until she became disabled in 2008. She was a devoted and loving daughter, wife, mother and sister.
She is also survived by her husband, Darryll David Kulski; a daughter, Samantha Jane Adkins of Salisbury; three sisters, Jane E. Nier and her husband, Jack of Towson, Beth L. Conway and her husband, Jimmy of Baltimore and Julie L. Raynor and her husband, Roger of Baltimore; and two brothers, Edward E. Owings and his wife, Eileen of Ocean City and Leonard V. Owings of Baltimore.
A funeral service was held Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 at 11 a.m. at the Holloway Funeral Home in Salisbury with Rev. Mark Massey officiating. Visitation was held on Wednesday evening from 6-8 p.m. and also on Thursday one hour prior to the service.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in her memory to Coastal Hospice, P.O. Box 1733, Salisbury, Md. 21802.
Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home, PA, 501 Snow Hill Road, Salisbury, Md. 21804. To send condolences to the family, visit www.hollowayfh.com.
Eugene W. Bailey
SELBYVILLE -- Eugene W. Bailey, 87, of Selbyville died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. He was born in Micajah, W.Va. and was the son of the late Oscar and Verlie (Milam) Bailey.
He had been a construction engineer for McDermott, Inc. for many years. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII and was also a Mason and Shriner.
He is survived by his wife, Celia Bailey of Selbyville, and four half-sisters, Genelee Arnold, Bonnie McKenney, Peggy Adams and Lillian Cameron.He was preceded in death by two brothers and two sisters.
A Mass of Christian burial was held on Thursday, Feb. 23 at St. Luke Catholic Church 100th Street in Ocean City with Father Richard Smith officiating. Friends may call from 10-11 a.m. at the church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children, 3551 North Broad St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19140.Arrangements by Hastings Funeral Home in Selbyville, Del.
Condolences may be sent by visiting www.hastingsfuneralhome.net