R. Jerome 'Jerry' Kearns


R. Jerome "Jerry" Kearns, 83, of Terre Haute, passed away on May 11, 2019, in his home, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born on May 9, 1936, to Raymond John Kearns and Frances Marie "Hunter" Kearns.
Jerry is preceded in death by his brother Michael H. Kearns, as well as his sisters Mary Francis Lucarelli and Katharine Kearns.
He is survived by his wife of 40 years Mary Ellen Kearns; his children Brendan Kearns (Sarah), Sarah Kearns (Greg), Erin Kearns and William Kearns; brother John Kearns (Carolyn); and grandchildren Adarrah Kearns, Liam Kearns and Mia Kearns; as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Jerry is a Wiley High School graduate. He then served in the United States Army for 6 years (2 of which was active duty). Jerry attended Indiana State University, Xavier and Louisville School of Law. He practiced law in Vigo County for 50 years.
Jerry felt much honored to have served his community as a state legislator, a Vigo County judge, deputy prosecutor and a public defender.
He loved people and their stories, his Irish heritage any new adventure. Most of all, he loved and was proud of his entire family. Jerry was a member of the Terre Haute Bar Association and the American legion Post 104.
Visitation for Jerry will be held on Thursday, May 16, at DeBaun Springhill Chapel, from 4 to 8 p.m. Mass will be held at Saint Joseph University Parish on Friday, May 17, at 11 a.m.
Memorial donations are welcomed for either Saint Joseph Parish or the Terre Haute Humane Society.
Online condolences may be left at:
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Published on May 13, 2019
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10 posts

Jeani Kelley Hall
May 30, 2019
My deepest condolences to the family, having no newspaper no idea..........such a gentle man and friend over many years......met while friends with his brother Mike.........may GOD be with you.
John D. Wright
May 17, 2019
I'm thankful to have known Jerry and enjoyed a good working relationship with him while I covered news for The Tribune-Star. Politics and office-seeking draws it share of egotists and hidden-agenda types in Terre Haute, as it does anywhere. Jerry was not one of them. He cared about people and about making a difference, and was in it for the right reasons. My best to the family.
Jim Organ
May 17, 2019
We were truly fortunate to have Jerry in our lives. As a colleague, I always appreciated talking with him about law, even if we disagreed. But far more valuable were our conversations about life. We keep a photo Jerry took of downtown Terre Haute in our conference room at my office as a fond remembrance of those conversations. All our best to you and your family, and you are in our hearts and prayers.
Jane Shaffer
May 15, 2019
I didn't know you very well but I saw you every time I was at my sister's and you were a very sweat man. My best wishes for your family in their time of loss. You will be remembered.
Mary Altman Rudisel
May 14, 2019
Judge Kearns was a good friend to my father Carl Altman and I worked for Judge. He never met a stranger and will be missed by the voters of Vigo County.
Jeanne E Hounchell
May 14, 2019
I loved Him like a Father ❤️One of the best men I’ve ever known! My heart is with the family during this very sad time! He made a true impact on many ! Rest Well Judge ❤️
Louise Anderson
May 14, 2019
Fond memories of Jerry especially the times we shook our heads while raising daughters of the same age. Also, so appreciated the services you provided us as citizens of Indiana and Vigo County. May God keep you in his loving arms and bless your survivors.
Glenn and Cheryl Wrightsman
May 14, 2019
JESUS....this is a good man, one who served his community well, will be missed, GOD BLESS!
May 13, 2019
Joyce Followell
May 13, 2019
Mary Ellen and family,
I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. He was a character, and such a respected part of the Indiana government. A huge whole was created with his passing. In your hearts forever .. Joyce Followell