Grace L. Kerns, 71, Was Devoted Nurse and Friend

Grace L. Kerns, formerly of Vineyard Haven, died Friday, Jan. 14 at her daughter's home in Clinton, Wash. She was 71. After a long, courageous battle with cancer, she died peacefully with all of her children by her side. She was preceded in death by her husband of 47 years, Paul, in November 2003.

Grace was born on Sept. 24, 1933 in Edgartown to Benjamin and Grace (Fisher) Gross. She graduated from Edgartown High School. After her evening shift at Giordano's restaurant in the summer of 1956, Grace met her future husband at Monroe's in Oak Bluffs. After a short courtship they were married on Sept. 15, 1956 in Elkton, Md.

Grace graduated from the Henry O. Peabody School of Nursing in Norwood in 1962 and began her career at the old nursing home in Vineyard Haven. A few years later she began a long career at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital and later worked in Maine and Florida.

After many years of raising their family in Vineyard Haven, she and her husband Paul moved to Maine in 1988 and then on to Bayonet Point, Fla. in 1999. They both cherished their time in Florida, meeting many wonderful new friends, taking many afternoon drives; visiting relatives in the area and simply enjoying the warm weather.

Grace will always be remembered for her great strength and courage. Even when faced with her own challenges, Grace devoted her time to caring for those she loved. Whether it was her family, a patient, or a friend, she was always there to give of herself without ever expecting anything in return. She has touched the lives of so many along her path and has been a great inspiration to us all.

Grace's greatest pride was her family. She spent the last two years traveling around the country so she could spend as much time as possible with her siblings, her children and her grandchildren.

She is survived by four sons; Paul F. Kerns Jr. and his wife Lisa of Apalachin, N.Y., Thomas Kerns and his wife Anne, of Clinton, Wash.; John Kerns and his wife, Tena of Berkeley, and Michael Kerns of Seattle, Wash.; two daughters, Susan Rosin and her husband, Richard of Boxford and Patti Schuller and her husband, Paul of Clinton, Wash.; a step daughter Kathy Bongiorno and her husband Bob of Norwood, Pa.; four sisters, Elsie Landers of Oak Bluffs, Emma Perkins of Kingston; Carol Waris of Amherst, N.H.; Norma Spencer of Florida; a brother Ralph Gross of Edgartown; a sister in law Eileen Fichtner of Bayonet Point; 13 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Grace leaves behind many dear friends from Martha's Vineyard, Florida and across the country.

A memorial scholarship has been set up at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in memory of Grace. If you would like to make a donation, please make checks payable to MVRHS Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of Grace L. Kerns. Mail to M.V.R.H.S. attention: Guidance Dept., P.O. Box 1385, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Family and friends will gather at a later time for a celebration of her wonderful life.