Jerome M. Kennedy, 95

Jerome M. Kennedy, 95, of Fairfield, CA, formerly of Delano, died Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014.

Jerome will be buried Friday, Oct. 17 at 9:30 a.m. at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, CA, followed by a celebration of life at Paradise Valley Estates in Fairfield, CA.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to your favorite charity. Arrangements are under the direction of Bryan-Braker, (707) 425-4697.

He was born April 7, 1919, in Delano, to Michael R. Kennedy and Margaret C. (Finnegan, Ruud).

Jerome was active in Scouts, sports, dancing, and hunting; and he provided for his family. He set some kind of record in Minnesota sports history, when he scored all the points for Delano in a high school basketball game against Cokato.

Jerome graduated from Delano High School in 1937, then joined the cavalry in 1941. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1943, was trained to pilot 16 kinds of aircraft, and was a B-24 liberator pilot in World War II, flying 25 missions over Germany in 1944-45 with the 8th Air Force’s 389th bomb group. He then assisted in the training of combat personnel, and flew the Berlin air-lift.

Jerome graduated from George Washington University.

In the Air Force, he served as operations and unit officers, vice commander of the Far East communications region, and inspector general, before retiring as a colonel in 1972. Active duty assignments took him worldwide, including England, Taiwan, the Pentagon, Italy, and Japan, where he was involved in the Pueblo Crisis in 1968. His decorations include the Air Force Commendation Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and 11 other air medals.

Jerome married Kleo A. Karels of Hutchinson in 1944. The couple lived the Air Force life for 32 years, before retiring in 1972, in Novato, CA, where they enjoyed family, travel, and golf, including playing with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Jerome then worked eight years as branch manager of Home Savings & Loan in Tiburon, CA. In 1998, they moved to Paradise Valley Estates in Fairfield, CA.

An eternal optimist, Jerome had a passion for hard work, integrity, fairness, and doing what was right. Even his toughest Air Force bosses rated him superior in diligence and initiative. He set the highest standards in whatever he did.

Jerome is survived by his son, Michael Kennedy of Oakdale, CA; and four grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Kleo; a sister, Margaret Wandersee (Kennedy) of Excelsior; a brother, John Kennedy of Delano; and a daughter, Patrice Gestring (Kennedy) of Denver, CO.

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