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Tony Louis Kerns

Tony Louis Kerns of Chattanooga passed away on Wednesday, August 29 after a brief illness.

Tony was born in Erwin, Tenn. on November 12, 1944 to Louis and Peggy Kerns. He graduated from Unicoi County High School, attended East Tennessee State University, and in 1968 served a tour of duty as a First Lieutenant with the United States Army in Vietnam where he was awarded The Bronze Star. After concluding his military service, he protested the war on behalf of his fallen friends, completed his Masters Degree at ETSU, and spent his career as an elementary school principal in the Greene County School system.

He retired to Chattanooga where he built a home that he loved in the Highland Park neighborhood. He enjoyed the Scenic City by observing its civic life and taking in its natural beauty with a daily drive around Hamilton County.

Quiet, gentle, diligent, and kind, Tony worked with purpose, loved his students, delighted in his sons, and constantly sought ways to give of himself until his final days.

The foremost testament to his life will always be that his sons – all four – love him very much, and will carry his lessons throughout their lives.

He is preceded in death by a sister, Diane Kerns Sims, and brother, Kent Alan Kerns.

Survivors include: Three sons, David, John, and Jesse, a stepson, Hunter Brown, daughters-in-law Michelle Schofield Brown (Hunter), Sara Kerns (John),

Nikki Kates (Jesse), grandsons Paxton and Jayden Kerns (David), granddaughters Kassidy and Kennedy Brown (Hunter), sister April, brothers-in-law Charles Fain (April) and Bill Sims (Diane), nephews Sam Sims, Daniel and Aaron Fain, nieces Christy Sims Smith, Beth Sims Smith, and Sarah Bailey, a special niece and nephew, Hannah and Whit Helton, and thousands of rural Greene County students that received their primary education under his direction.

A burial service will take place at Chattanooga National Cemetery on September 10, 2018 at 1pm. with military honors.

His sons will host a reception honoring Tony’s life in Greeneville, Tenn. on Thursday, September 13 from 5pm-7:30pm at Doak Elementary School.

The family would like to thank Capt. Randy Steele and all of Chattanooga’s first responders, as well as the nurses and staff of the Trauma ICU unit at Erlanger hospital for their unending professionalism and expert care.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations in Tony’s memory be made to Welcome Home of Chattanooga’s We Are Home housing campaign (

Arrangements are by Hamilton Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 4506 Hixson Pike, Hixson 423-531-3975.