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Published September 05 2013

Forum editorial: Kerns put meaning in ‘special’

When it came to making life better for young people, no one brought more passion to the task than Fargo’s Roger Kerns. Kerns, who served in many capacities in education and public service in North Dakota and South Dakota, died Aug. 29 at age 80. Funeral services are this afternoon in Fargo.

Passion is one thing. Translating it into action and substance is quite another. Kerns did it. The results are all around us. Founder of Special Olympics in South Dakota (his native state) in 1968, he moved north in 1971. A year later, he had led a team that established the first Special Olympics in North Dakota. His legacy is such that Special Olympics for special needs children and adults is a fixture on the calendar. In some respects, the brilliant program can be taken for granted because Kerns’ effort was so successful.

A Ph.D.-level educator, Kerns was a full professor at North Dakota State University. He served on the Fargo School Board. He was an early member of the Fargo AirSho board, a member of the Air Museum board of directors, and past chairman of the Cass-Clay American Red Cross. In 2002 he was inducted into the North Dakota Special Olympics Hall of Fame, an honor that confirmed the sports competition that he began was secure for the future.

Among the many awards he earned, the 2005 Robert Feder Humanitarian Award recognized his unwavering commitment over many years to help others, particularly young people, have full lives.

Kerns understood the value and power of properly motivated public service. His work stands as an example of how to do it right – to make a difference in individual lives and thus in time, the larger society.

We join with his family, friends, colleagues and many admirers in celebrating his extraordinary life.


Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.