Dennis Richard “Rick” Kernan passed away peacefully on July 27, 2021 in his adopted city of Palm Springs, California. Rick was born September 28, 1943 to James C. Kernan, Jr. and Juanita (DeMerchant) Kernan in Tonasket, Washington.
Rick’s parents divorced when he was young and he spent time between his mother and his beloved grandparents, George and Marie DeMerchant. George was like a second father to Dad.
Rick combined his youth between Oroville and Tonasket, working his family’s orchards, playing various sports, and enjoying his friends and family, water skiing, snow skiing, and being outside. In 1960 he married Karla Engstrom and they had a daughter, Denese.
In 1962 Dad moved to Seattle with some high school friends. After a while he went to Farmerville, Louisiana to work for his brother-in-law, Chuck Hayes. It was there he met his future wife Peggy Hicks. After a few months they were married and moved to Missouri. It wasn’t long before Washington called Rick home. The young couple came back to Oroville and in 1965 welcomed their first daughter, Julie. During this time Rick met his “brother from another mother,” Frank Beddow, and formed a lasting friendship which their kids carry to this day.
Next the couple moved to Bothell where Rick worked cable construction. In 1970, daughter Dana was born. Two weeks later the family ventured to the San Francisco, California area. A year later, the “dream job” came up in Hawaii. Rick and his partners started Island Cable, laying the first cable television wires in the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1974 Dad received a letter from his father telling him of the fire at the Peerless Hotel and asking Dad to come and rebuild the establishment. With his father and grandfather owning the business at the time, the loyal local boy decided to move his family back to Oroville. In 1976 The Old Peerless Restaurant and Lounge opened. The Old Peerless was known as a “happening” place for a decade. To this day many up and down the U.S. and Canadian Okanogan Valley have fond memories of their time at the Peerless in the 70’s and 80’s
Rick was very proud of his roots to Oroville and surrounding communities. He was a member of the Masons from 1977 until his death. He was also a member of the Jaycees and the Oroville Chamber of Commerce. He was past President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Oroville Golf Club.
All good things come to an end and in 1985 the Peerless closed and in 1987 Dad moved to Ohio to work with his old business partner from Hawaii. In 1990 he moved to Seattle and started a company within his past field of cable construction.
In 1994 Dad met Deborah (Tutti) Carter and they had 27 happy, fun, loving years together. Rick’s daughters are so very thankful for Tutti for loving Dad and being a wonderful wife and partner to our father.
Rick is preceded in death by his parents, James C. Kernan, Jr. and Juanita DeMerchant, brother Patrick Kernan, sister Pamela Pearson and grandson Kyle Jorde.
Dad is survived by his daughters, Denese (Joy) Balino, Virginia, Julie (Tim) Kastner, Calgary, and Dana Kernan-McCoy, Oroville; brothers, Michael and David Kernan; sisters, Patricia Hayes, Kathleen Kernan, and Janet (John) Leslie; grandchildren Brendi (Jesse) Angeli, Christopher Holzheimer, Shayne Metcalf, Braeden McCoy, Mikaela McCoy, T.J. Kastner, and Xavier McCoy; great grandchildren, Summer and Destiny Angeli and Christopher and Alexander Reed; step-children Julian Orange and Josh and Emma Yates.
There will be a Celebration of Life on September 25 at the Oroville American Legion Post #84. More details to follow. Please plan to attend and share your favorite Rick stories with the family. He was quite a presence!
In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the Oroville Masonic Lodge or the Oroville Booster Club.