Obituaries » Kathryn Helen Eustance Kern

Check your settings when you are happy with your print preview press the print icon below.

Show Obituaries Show Guestbook Show Photos QR Code Print

Kathryn Helen Eustance Kern

October 1, 2020

Share your Memorial with Family & Friends

Add to favorites

Subscribe to updates for Kathryn Kern

Please choose your subscription settings below, you can unsubscribe through email at any time.

Email me when someone posts in the guestbook

Email me when an update is made to the obituary

Email me on the anniversary of passing


Kathryn Helen Eustance Kern, MD, 89, died peacefully on October 1, 2020, with her family at her bedside, in Bedford, Virginia, from dementia. She was the beloved wife of William A. Kern, Jr., MD for 65 years.

Kate was born on March 16, 1931, in Ithaca, NY, a daughter of the late Harry Winfield Eustance and Bernice Keibler Eustance. She grew up in Rochester, NY, and graduated from Charlotte High School and Wellesley College. She followed her dream of becoming a doctor by attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine, where she was one of four women who graduated with her class in 1956. While in medical school, she met and married fellow student, William (Bill) Kern, another Rochesterian. They married in 1955, graduated in 1956, and began their post-graduate medical training in Minneapolis, MN, where their first child, Jenny, was born. The family then moved to Fairfax, VA, where Bill served as a medical officer in the US Army for two years, and daughter Emily was born. The next move was to Syracuse, NY, where Bill finished his residency in Internal Medicine, and son John arrived. In 1962, the family moved to Greece, NY, a suburb of Rochester, where they made a home for 34 years. Kate was instrumental in supporting Bill’s solo Internal Medicine practice, while raising the family and working as a physician for the Monroe County Health Department. The family spent many weekends in the Thousand Islands, and took many camping trips throughout NY state and the western U.S.

Kate and Bill retired in 1992, and became avid world travellers, visiting more than 50 countries. They moved to Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia in 1996, where Kate enjoyed living in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and appreciated the Appalachian scenery, folk art, and music. She was a volunteer with the Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park for many years, clearing trails weekly and staffing the visitor center. She and Bill also volunteered with the Charity House Tour at Smith Mountain Lake. They spent a week each year volunteering on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, NM, as Kate indulged Bill’s love of trains. She gladly accompanied Bill on his many trips to South Dakota, where he provided temporary physician coverage for the Indian Health Service.

Kate was a beloved mother, aunt, and grandmother, known for her love of family, her good nature, kindness, generosity, and appreciation of science and the natural world, which she passed on to her children and grandchildren. She was an observer of everyday miracles; a lover of sunsets, a collector of acorns, colorful leaves, bugs, seashells, animal bones, and vintage linens and glassware. She was independent, community-minded, and down-to-earth with a sense of whimsy that endeared her to her family, friends, and neighbors. She and Bill hosted an annual summer family reunion for many years at their lake house, which was the highlight of the year for her grandchildren. 

Kate was preceded in death by her brother John W. Eustance, and sister Anne Eustance Russo. She is survived by her devoted husband, Bill; her children, Jenny Kern Stern, Emily Kern (Mark Metz), and John (Kim) Kern; grandchildren: Jacob Stern, Daniel Stern, David Stern, Joseph Metz, Madeleine Metz, Katherine Metz, Rebecca Kern, Matthew Kern, and Elizabeth Kern; sister-in-law Nancy Guilford Eustance, and nieces and nephews: Lynn Eustance, Kerry Eustance Koen, Roger Eustance, Amy Eustance, Andrew Russo and wife Suganya, Mark Russo and Rick Russo. 

Many thanks to Cindy Martin and the staff of Oakwood Health & Rehabilitation Center for the loving care they gave Kate (and Bill) during her final years.

Donations in Kate’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association ( or to the food pantry at Lake Christian Ministries of Moneta, VA (

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Bedford is assisting the family.


Click here to access Obituary Archives from 2014 and earlier.