Serving West Michigan Since 1899

Joseph F. Kearney

March 24, 2023
Douglas, MI


Life Story / Obituary


Joseph Francis Kearney, age 74, passed into eternal life on March 27 after battling pancreatic cancer.

An accomplished Professor, Joe achieved his PhD in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and pursued a teaching career that spanned 40 years. During the Vietnam Conflict, Joe’s skill in math, statistics, and electronics made him a good match in the United States Army Signal Corps, with top secret crypto clearance while stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

In the spirit of his Dad, Joe had a kind and gentle manner as well as the unique skill to create authentic, scratch-built replicas of historic ships. Joe so enjoyed working with his small craft building kits as a boy that his family nickname was ‘the skipper’.

As an adult, over a 7-year span, he created an 8ft. long replica of the passenger liner Andrea Doria which sank in the Atlantic in 1956, enroute to the U.S. He used scaled models of the original ship’s plans acquired from Italy. His replica was accepted and transported in 2022 for permanent display at the Nantucket Island Maritime Museum, Cape Cod, MA.

Not content with the ocean, Joe took to the sky. He became a Commercial/Instrument Flight Instructor and First Officer for private business airline transportation. Joe also flew missions for Wings of Mercy flights and Paws With a Cause.

Joe will be lovingly remembered by his close family members: son Joe and Jeannine Kearney and grandsons Mick and Joe in Hinsdale, IL; son Phil and Shelley Kearney and daughters in Gettysburg, PA ; devoted sister Mary Ellen Kearney, Holland, MI and brother Philip Kearney, Grand Rapids, MI, and by he many working colleagues and close friends who have enriched Joe’s life, as he had theirs. A private service has been held in Joe’s honor.

The Kearney Family acknowledge their deep gratitude for compassionate home and medical care provided by Hospice of Holland, and The Douglas Cove staff , and for the pastoral care of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, Holland. You have eased our farewells as Joe flew onward to his Eternal Home.

“Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.

Where never lark, or even eagle flew —

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod

The high un-trespassed sanctity of space,

– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

High Flight, John Magee. Jr. 1942