Joyce Avon (Cole) Kerns, 74, died at her home on June 17 surrounded by family.
Kerns was born on June 18, 1935, in Mound Valley, Kan., to Rolland and M. Irene ( Wilkinson ) Cole. She and her family moved to Baker City in 1941.
Music lessons at St. Francis Academy were a special treat for her. Kerns graduated from Baker High School in 1953. She was very fortunate to have made and kept many good friends from her school days in Baker City.
This group of friends met yearly even when Kerns and her family had moved to locations all over the United States.
On June 21, 1953, Kerns married the love of her life, Tom “Mac” Kerns. They celebrated just short of 57 years together.
Kerns attended and graduated from the Baker Business College in 1955. She later engaged those skills as an employee of the OSU Dairy Science Department while her husband, Mac, attended classes.
Kerns was fortunate enough to be working at home while her children were young. Baking was one of her talents, and any event or gathering could count on pies, rolls or sheets of cookies.
She worked hard at making her house a home. Kerns and her young family lived in 24 houses in 32 years, which was no mean feat. She and her husband designed and built three of these 24 homes. Kerns was the general contractor (emphasis on the general) on each of these projects. When building supplies were needed, she drove the family’s 1947 International truck to Portland and Baker City. She was responsible for roofing the family home in Klamath Falls and John Day.
When her children left home, she started a career in the insurance business. When her husband was transferred to Washington D.C., she accepted a job with the CIA. She told her family that of all her jobs that one was the most interesting and enjoyable. When she left the CIA, she worked for the U.S. Forest Service.
She finished her career at the Wallowa Whitman Forest office in Baker City. Her work continued as a partner in the family ranch at Haines.
She was always active in the United Methodist Church wherever they lived. Most recently, Kerns was a member of the Haines United Methodist Church. She also attended Methodist Women’s Circle meetings in Baker. She played bridge weekly and was a hard working member of the Haines Mutual Improvement Club.
Weekly Kerns read to students at the Haines Elementary School, supporting their SMART Reading Project.
Kerns supported the livestock industry and was a member of the Baker County Cattlewomen.
Kerns is survived by her husband, Tom “Mac” Kerns of Haines; sons, Brent and wife Mary of Haines, Wes and wife Mary (Davies) Kerns of Princeton; daughter, Janni Kerns Eggers and her husband John of Haines; grandchildren, Jacque Cobb and husband Josh, Logan Kerns and wife Holly, Andy Johnson all of Haines, John Kerns and wife Catie of Baker City, Jeff Kerns, Mark Kerns of Princeton, Petty Officer Second Class Eli Eggers and Zach Eggers of Haines; great-grandchildren, Colt and Orin Cobb and Lance Kerns; brothers, Lloyd Cole and wife Midge of Palm Desert, Calif., Don Cole and wife Glenda of Baker City; sisters-in-law, Janice Cole of McMinneville, Ellen Stevenson and husband Philip of Haines and Jean Griffith and husband Tom of Belgrade, Mont.; brothers-in-law, Tim Kerns and wife Jan, James Kerns and wife Marge; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Rolland and Irene Cole; brother, Bill Cole; and infant, daughter, Diane.
Kerns was born into a Great Depression Midwest. Her family came west to start a new life and have a future for her and her brothers. Her parents made many sacrifices and instilled an ability to conquer adversity and thrive. Kerns was happy with her life and happy to have just what she had been given. She made the best of it all.
A service was held on June 22 at the Baker United Methodist Church. Sally Wiens officiated.
Arrangements are with Gray’s West & Co., 541-513-3677. Memorials may be made to the Haines United Methodist Church.