By Michelle Graff
Santa Barbara, Calif.—Richard M. “Dick” Kern, the longtime owner of Churchill Jewelers and former California Jewelers Association president, died last month at home surrounded by family.

He was 97.

20201118 Dick KernRichard M. “Dick” Kern
Born Dec. 19, 1922 in Santa Barbara, California to Joseph and Irma Kern, he began working for jeweler Roy Churchill in high school on Saturdays and during the week after school.

He was still working at the store while attending Santa Barbara State College (now UCSB) when he entered the military.

Kern fought with the 76th Infantry Division in Europe as a member of General George Patton’s Third Army at the pivotal and deadly Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

After returning from the war, he finished his education, earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial science, and went back to work at the jewelry store.

In 1947, he married Dorothy Willson and, in 1955, the couple welcomed triplet daughters—Lexi, Lee and Lynn Kern.

A few years after Roy Churchill’s death, Kern bought the business and ran it alongside his daughter, Lexi Kern Hirst, for more than four decades.

She took over the store when he retired and, in 2016, Lexi retired and the store closed.

Kern was active in the jewelry industry, serving as president of the California Jewelers Association and as a two-term board member for Jewelers of America.

He was on the board of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company for 21 years, serving as chair for 13 years.

Outside of the jewelry industry, he enjoyed playing golf and was active in the Downtown Organization for Santa Barbara, especially during the planning of the revitalization project.

He also was a charter member of the Optimist Club of Santa Barbara.

Kern is survived by his wife of 36 years, Rita Kern; his daughters, Lexi (Ron), Lee (Jack) and Lynn (Bob); stepsons Dar (Teena) and Alex (Monica) Broumand; and seven grandchildren: Ashley, Brittany, Alexa, Taryn, Ryan, Aaron, and Brody.

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