Iowa's official "Sports Fan of the Year" Kenny Bern of Cherokee celebrates his 85th Birthday Tuesday, May 29 and simply loves receiving cards from his many friends. Mail them to Kenny Bern at 614 W. Willow St., Cherokee, Iowa 51012.
In the photos accompanying this column is a younger Kenny when he was a national champion bowler who followed the circuit throughout the Midwest in the 1950s and 1960s when he wasn't laboring long, hard hours in the meat packing business in Storm Lake. Anybody out there remember Kingan's or Hygrade?
Visible at area prep athletic events throughout the area for more than 60 years, the World War ll veteran was named the inaugural "Sports Fan Of The Year" by the Iowa High School Athletic Association in 2011.
"Strangers are friends I just haven't met yet," is one of Kenny's favorite sayings.
"I just don't know what I'd ever do without being around all these wonderful kids and their families."
You haven't lived until you're on the receiving end of a Kenny Bern hug. The sincerity, the hugability, the open honesty, the gentle tenderness of this giant of a man who at age 85 could (and would!) still pack your lunch if you wronged him, is beyond compare.
I get the privilege of visiting with Kenny two and three times a week when he shows up at my office, as usual unannounced, and looking like he just rolled a 300 game and topped it with a warm bowl of milk.
He brightens my day. He enlightens me. And, most importantly, he reminds me of how very fortunate I am to share his passion and love for caring parents, their kids, and their athletic pursuits in my 40 years in this business.
Hey. kids! Don't just want to get to age 85... get there like Kenny did - doing your best always in the right way...and, uh...sharing the love with everyone you meet.