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Message on Ruth Kernodle

Provost Michael R. Halleran sent the following message regarding the passing of Ruth Kernodle to the campus community on Jan. 15, 2019. - Ed.

Dear Colleagues,

I am sad to pass along the news that Ruth Kernodle, former W&M adjunct professor and co-founder of the Christopher Wren Association, died January 9, 2019. 

Ruth Lynch Kernodle was born in 1922 in Washington, D.C., where her father was a Methodist minister.  She grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, graduating from high school in New Market.  She graduated from Madison College and while a student there was a member of the student council, president of the YWCA, member of the college orchestra and organized and played in a dance band.  At the age of 19, she entered graduate school at the University of North Carolina from which she received a Master’s degree in sociology in 1944 and then spent several more years doing graduate work.  In 1945 she married a fellow graduate student, Wayne Kernodle and in September of 1945 they came to Williamsburg, where he joined the William & Mary faculty.  Mrs. Kernodle taught as an adjunct at W&M and was a research associate for the Hampton Roads War Studies Committee.

Later she worked in the social service department of Eastern State Hospital and when Christopher Newport became a four-year Institution, she was asked to develop a sociology department.  She taught at CNC for 18 years and was chair of the department most of that time. She also developed a program in gerontology.  She co-founded the Community Forum on Aging, which still exists, and was a member of a number of the college’s governing committees.  She was a member of the American Sociology Society, the Southern Sociological Society, the American Gerontology Society and the Southern Gerontology Society and was also a member of the Virginia Association on Aging, serving as vice president.  In 1983, she was named the outstanding educator of the association.

After retirement she and Wayne co-founded the Christopher Wren Association for Lifelong Learning (now named the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at William & Mary) and she served as executive director in the early years of the association, also teaching from time to time. The CWA’s first classes were offered in January 1991 following six months of preparation by a steering committee from William & Mary and the community. The enrollment the first semester was 105 and has increased to over 1,300 per semester. This growth has coincided with the increase of the population in Williamsburg and surrounding areas.

She was active in a number of local and state organizations: member and chair of the Colonial Services Board, member and chair of the Williamsburg Social Service Board, member of the governor’s Advisory Committee on Aging.  She served on several state mental health committees and on several legislative task forces.  She was also a member of the corporate board of Williamsburg Landing and later, as a resident, served on the Residents Board.  In 2008 she and her husband Wayne were made honorary W&M alumni.

She is preceded in passing by her husband of 72 years, Dr. Wayne Kernodle, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Anthropology.  She is survived by a son, Dr. Michael Kernodle and his wife Lou Ann of Boone, N.C., and by a daughter, Dr. Kay Loveland of Asheville, N.C., and a granddaughter, Abby Dixon.

In accordance with the specific wishes of Ruth Kernodle, there will be no funeral or memorial service.  Instead, there will be a family-only disposition of Ruth's and Wayne's ashes along their favorite hiking path in North Carolina.  The family has asked that any contributions be made in their honor to the Ruth and Wayne Kernodle Scholarship Fund, administered by the Christopher Wren Association.