Kernaghan, James David

Kernaghan, James David "Jim"

June 5th, 2016

It is with heavy hearts that the family of Jim Kernaghan announce his passing at the age of 76 surrounded by his loving family on Sunday, June 5th, 2016 at University Hospital, London. The volume of testimonies written by the many people whose lives he has touched with his character and grace are evidence of his equally strong and kind nature. These memorials have given the family much comfort in our time of sorrow. He will join his beloved father James, mother Margaret, sister Margie and nephew Thomas. He is survived by his loving wife Carol (nee Penner), son Sean, daughter Cara, son James, and son Terence and their beloved spouses. Jim took great delight in the exploits of his grandchildren, who adored him: Shauna, Scarlett, Darragh, Ronan, Irina, and Tiarnan. Sisters Maureen, Trish, brother John, brothers- and sisters-in-law and many beloved nieces and nephews will miss him but enjoy the wealth of memories Jim leaves behind. Jim will also be fondly remembered by colleagues, neighbours, and friends both lifelong and new. His passion for writing and sport translated into a full and rich life that provided him many rewarding and exhilarating moments. Jim began his career at the Ryersonian and worked briefly at the Canadian Press before joining the Sports department at the Toronto Star. In 1981 he joined the London Free Press staff and continued there until 2006. After retiring, Jim wrote the occasional travel and sports article as a freelance journalist. During his career, he visited every continent except Antarctica. His career spanned six decades and he covered four Commonwealth Games, five Olympic Games, six World Cups, numerous Grey Cups as well as more than 25 of Muhammad Ali's bouts. WHA, NHL, minor pro leagues, juniors, high school, and university sport were also part of his broad body of work, a highlight of which was the 2005 Memorial Cup win by the London Knights. Jim was one of the early supporters of the Special Olympics and valued the benefits that sport has on the life of every individual. His impact on us all has been indelible. Our sincerest thanks to Dr. Luc DuBois and the caring nurses at Victoria Hospital whose quick intervention and expertise granted us an additional two years with Jim after his abdominal aortic aneurysm in 2014. We are so grateful and thankful as well for the compassionate care he received from medical staff at University Hospital in his final hours. A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at WESTVIEW FUNERAL CHAPEL, 709 Wonderland Road North, London (519-641-1793), on Saturday, June 11th, 2016. Visitation will take place from 1:00-3:00 p.m. and the service will commence thereafter. Memorial donations to KidSport Canada ( or London Health Sciences Foundation ( would be greatly appreciated. Portrait and memorial online at

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Book of Condolences

Yvonne & Dave BorthwickIt was with fond remembrance that I had the pleasure to sit with Jim at dinner during our latest "Class of '59" dinner in Oakville. To Carol and family our sincere condolences ...... he will be seriously missed and fondly remembered. Yvonne & Dave Borthwick.
Karen TaylorTo my childhood friend of 68 years - I bid you adieu. I have fantastic memories of our younger years and beyond - you rescued my dog Blackie from the bluffs, helped me home after a skating accident when we were 9 or 10, and carried my books from school. I have many many more wonderful memories which I shall treasure forever. Thanks for choosing our last reunion venue. It was wonderful. I know your family will miss you, but will have thousands of memories to see them through.
rick coulterJim was an old and trusted friend who always stayed in touch. His empathy, donation (and religious fervor) for my granddaughter who took her life last year was typically Jim. I remember the particular instance at the West Hill coffee shop those many years ago when it was announced that results in English proficiencies had shown Jim was something like 4th in Ontario. His sense of humor was second to none and his devotion to old friends, especially those who were incapacitated, gained noticeable sympathies from Jim. As daughter Cara has said, since the last medical dilemma of two years ago which was almost life-ending, having an extra couple of years of Jim... were not enough. Rick (Carol) Coulter.
Don HeggieAfter a friendship that began back at Scarborough Village Public School and continued throughout our lives, you will be sorely missed, old pal. It was great getting to see you at the reunion last October. Our most sincere condolences go to Carol and your extended family members. Don and Bibi Heggie
Don BrownJim is certainly getting his share of accolades from friends. It shows what a true human being he was. I know I will miss his banter as one Irishman to another we started teasing each other back in 1960 on our daily ride sharing to Ryerson were he studied Journalism and I took Architecture. The other 2 in the car Terry Horner and Dennis Slocum were equaly capable of exchanging Quips wit Jim. We will miss you and all the "Car Guy" stuff we have shared over the years. Jim was one of the first to contact me when I lost my Wife 2 years ago on June 14th. a very compassionate man.
Nancy (Hughes) WistowJim and I were together through years at elementary and high school and re-connected again through the high school reunions. Jim and my husband met and shared some time when Jack was honoured along with the winning provincial basketball team of Beck C. I. in 1957. Later, I asked him to read the rough copy of a child's book I had written and his encouragement helped me immensely. His humour with his critique was such a bonus as I struggled for the revision. When I finish it, I will dedicate it to him. Love to Carol and family. You were blessed to have him in your lives.
Melissa Mooney CampbellJim was one of very few people that I have kept in contact from many years ago. He was a true gentleman with a great sense of humor and a genuine heart. Jim was always caring. He was the wise one. I will miss the banter from him, the jokes he sent on and the random contact over the years to come. Jim will always be remembered by all who knew him and his presence in this world will be sorely missed. RIP and condolences to his loved ones. Love from Ireland. Melissa
Rick Young SCOREGolf MagazineJim was a mentor for me, someone whose writing I admired greatly for its ability to be entertaining, balanced and well considered from every conceivable angle. When I had the good fortune to run into him at various golf events over the years his professionalism shone. What I loved most was Kernie's easy approach. He was as comfortable talking golf with Jack Nicklaus or hockey with Wayne Gretzky as he was spending time with the late Muhammad Ali. Trust. Everyone trusted Jim including his subjects and the readers. It's a writer's ultimate badge of honor. Jim wore that badge well. I have tried over my 32 years of writing golf in Canada to emulate him, to be like him with delivery and approach. To know he is gone saddens me greatly. He will be missed. What I am thankful for? Jim Kernaghan's writings live on. Farewell.
Ryan PyetteI met Jim at the 2000 Olympics in Australia. When I took a job at the LFP about a year later, I was excited knowing I already had a good friend there. I live outside London and a couple of times in massive snowstorms, he would ask if I was planning to drive home (yes) and he would bark at me, then basically drag me by the ear to his home to stay. I'll never forget, in the 2006 OHL final at Peterborough, he and photog Derek Ruttan picked me up on the side of the road in Jim's ol' camper/van that he basically built with his own hands for about 500 bucks. He always wanted to take the back roads/long way because the 401 was so boring. Whenever Kernie showed up at a sporting event, the athletes and coaches were pumped up. With him there, they felt like they were part of a big deal and would invariably land on the sports front page. When 9/11 happened, it's no surprise Kernie wrote the lead column. He was our best writer. But he was an even better man than he was with the pen. I miss you already, Jim.
Brian MarkleSoooo long ago that Jim and I were good friends. We were just ten or eleven and attending Scarborough Village Public School when we met. I should have known then that Jim would become an exceptional writer and journalist. He was a practically perfect kid, friendly and bright. Everyone liked him. He even had an absolutely perfect brush cut. If he had wanted to, he could have balanced a sheet of plywood on it during an earthquake. He encouraged me when I decided to emulate it and mine flopped here and there with a strange fan-like arc at the front. Jim just remarked what a neat brush cut it was and that was good enough for this insecure twelve year old. Jim was like that. He encouraged you. He supported you. He laughed at your antics and jokes as though you were Berle or Gleason. He gave, not took. He boosted not deflated. He was a wonderful friend to many people. With time, I have learned that the simple gestures people offer are often more noteworthy than the grand gestures that come along from time to time. A shared sandwich or bag of chips. A compliment that makes you smile. A lift in a car on a rainy day. A held door when you enter a store with arms full. Jim was full of those simple gestures that make a person feel good. No doubt it was because he was such a good person himself. With Jim's passing we have lost a bit of ourselves. But we will have memories of him to enjoy until our time comes too. I hope that all of Jim's family find even more joy in their memories of their husband, father, grandfather or uncle than his friends do. My condolences to all.
Janet Gravelle (Pringle/Wagner)Wonderful memories of Jim. For me, he will always be remembered as the most decent, kind, caring friend and blessedly there for me, even at a distance, here in Gananoque, with support and encouragement when my own father passed. Our memories of Jim will be filling many, many of our hearts and minds for a long time. Going back a long way - I recall he was one of the senior boys at Scarborough Village P.S. and we younger gals in Grade 5 could only sneak a peek,with a giggle, at those muscles and shoulders in the hallways! Or spotting one or two sitting outside the principal’s office, waiting for “the strap”. (you know who you are). We caught up a few years later at West Hill C.I. when Jim was again ahead of me and in my late husband Doug Wagner's class, on the football team, burgers at Ted’s, sharing their hobby of classic cars and hot rods as most fellows did then. Not sure if his current ’46 is the original or not, but Murray Forde’s and Don Brown’s may have survived. After a gap of 30+ years or so for marriages, careers and families, several WHCI reunions since have brought us all together, renewing old friendships, and quite aptly as per our yearbook, the “Afterglow”, have continued since. Some of those treasured friends and companions have passed over the years, and this week we are so very sadly saying goodbye to Jim. His loving family who are his pride and joy (and grand dog Kuma) , friends, and colleagues have lost a most cherished and loved, gentle soul. What greater honor, When a person moves forward, They leave behind in each of us, The best of what they were.
Jeff HaleDuring the dozen years I worked for The London Free Press, Jim Kernaghan was a valued colleague and a good friend. I came to know Kernie well when we were on the road, particularly during the two World Series runs the Toronto Blue Jays made in the early 1990s. Kernie’s helping hand was always there providing advice (a visit to the zoo helped declutter your mind on the day between games), making introductions (athletes, reporters, columnists, coaches, GMs, he knew them all) and with an attitude that blended fun and a respect for the craft. After I left LFP, we reconnected a couple of times, most notably in the weeks after his recent health scare. I was glad to be able to do that and further heartened knowing that while Kernie was somewhat bowed by what had happened to him, he remained undaunted about his future, mulling over potential travel plans. That is how I’ll remember him: seeking a new assignment, carrying on with his usual good cheer, collecting yet more friends along the way.
Phil HalloranI wish to offer my deep condolences to Carol and the Kernaghan family on the loss of their husband, father, and grandfather. Jim was a remarkable Canadian, and will be both deeply missed and richly remembered. As his brother-in-law and fan, I have followed and admired his many contributions and successes for more than 45 years. But my favorite memories will be the richness of the family gatherings, on sunny afternoons, with Jim always at the center of the happy chaos of children and nieces and nephews and in-laws and friends, his radiant personality warming the crowd with kindness, compassion, and unending good humour. Vitality and wisdom were always shining in his eyes and his smile. Jim’s career will be much celebrated by his colleagues, but those of us who enjoyed his friendship and brother know how many more dimensions there were to this remarkable man. I am grateful to have known him, and hope that pain of his loss for those who loved him will be offset by the wonderful legacy of happy memories he left for us.
terry provostIf Kearney wrote it....You could believe it.... One of the icons of sports reporting and he will be missed....Rest in Peace Jim....You made sports better for me....and for all of your readers.....
Larry HaylorSport journalism has lost one of it's iconic leaders. A writer of exceptional talent, Jim understood the people in the game and had the rare ability to ask the 'right' questions and tell the 'real' story. For those on the participant side of his stories, one could always trust in Jim's integrity and honesty...a writer of great personal and professional character. His smiling face and joy for his craft were trademarks of the man and he will be deeply missed by all those who had the honor of knowing him. Rest in peace Jim, you set the bar incredibly high and the legacy of your work and your life is a shinning example for all who follow in your footsteps.
paul coxI didn't know Jim very well, but I did speak to him a few times when he worked for London Free Press. He had written a couple articles about my brother Dave "Coach" Cox, and Dave's battle with arthritis. I called to thank him for the well-written articles, and was spoken to as if Jim & I had known each other for years. During one conversation it came out that I played for an Old Timers hockey team London Pink Flamingos, and I could tell Jim's laughter was not born out of mockery, but he saw the humour in it. Jim was very personable, and I enjoyed my few moments with him. Please accept my condolences, and know there must be so many people who liked and respected him, even those of us who barely knew him.
Doug BallVery sad.....whenever Jim walked into a room he lightened it up !!! A positive person to be we worked many assignments together over the years. And Jim was the first one to interview Chris Haney on his decision to build the Devil's Pulpit in Caledon. RIP my friend !
Ginny HalloranI share this deep sorrow with my dear sister Carol and her supportive and loving family. Carol brought Jim into our lives some five decades ago. He was and will remain a family treasure. His expansive personality had a presence at all our family gatherings. His warm, welcoming and genuine love for all of us made him a favourite with in laws, nieces and nephews. He was ever interested and interesting with a quietly profound influence. I have adored this guy, a brother (in law) - not as a sports reporter or icon - but as a wonderful addition to our clan ever since he arrived on the scene and stole our hearts. Thank you Carol for the gift of Jim in our lives. Family gatherings, phone calls and emails were enriched by his generosity of spirit and fun and will be impoverished by his absence. "Good night , sweet Prince" ...and flights of angels wing thee to thy rest". Peace to you Carol and your family as you adjust to your new reality softened by shared memories and the strength and love of family. Love Gin
Diane DrakeJim was an important part of the mosaic of The Penner Family . How easily he fit in ! How happily he embraced the craziness that we presented. Always one to enjoy a good time , he was ever the consummate host at his home with my sister , Carol , as well as a keen participant at one of our ' park events ' , or , at someone else's home . He always had a story to relay or a joke to share . His writing career covering sports gave him wonderful opportunities to travel . And....while he was always eager to share his experiences , he remained humble and quite simply just liked the telling and our reactions . His brothers-in-law and nephews were always an enthusiastic audience He became a treasured ' Tack-on ' in 1966 and already is dearly missed in 2016 . Another piece of The Jigsaw has gone missing ! RIP Jim and fun memories will sustain us. You WILL be missed ....but....NEVER forgotten . Love, Diane
Richard (Rick ) MartinSuzanne and I are deeply saddened by the news of Jim's passing. He was a very good friend throughout my Free Press years and was always ready to help me in any capacity. Sincerest condolences to his entire family from both of us.
Janet & Larry SabatinosJanet & Larry offer our condolences for your loving wife, our dear sister Carol, and your wonderful children Jim. We know how very proud you have been of their accomplishments. Sean, Cara, Jamie & Terrence, what a great family and wonderful support for your Mom, Carol. We miss you Jim for wit and craft with words, for the stories you could tell, your vivacious interest in sports and the children. So many years in the newswriting business of sports that we lost count. It takes a master to write a balanced of view of opponents and matches, that is constructive & entertaining. Your home has always been a welcoming place for us as family, for your children and their families now and friends. We always had a wonderful time. We miss you for having compassion and a helping spirit towards others. It shows in your children too. You and Carol have done well. The nicest thing is that all of your good traits and fond memories continue to live in us. For this we are eternally grateful. We will stand by Carol and your children to keep your spirit alive and her spirits up, and help where and when we can. Although I, Larry am only a "tag on" you always had a smile and made me welcome. We are so happy you were a wonderful part of our lives. Farewell dear friend. Janet & Larry
Elliotte FriedmanSorry I cannot be there today. It's all Martin Jones' fault. I came to London in 1989, and soon became familiar with Jim's work in The Free Press. He didn't cover a ton of university sports, but our paths crossed and I always admired his approach. No BS, no need for attention, just a desire to do the job and do it right. I learned a lot watching him and John, with whom I shared the Raptors beat in the team's infancy. All the best to John and the rest of the family. I won't forget what Jim taught me.
Joe MatyasMy deepest condolences to the Kernaghan family for the loss of Jim. As a Free Press colleague, he was someone who commanded respect, not only for his top drawer talent and the way he used it but also for how civilly and professionally he treated everyone around him. Like all great sports columnists, Jim was a master of prose beyond his field of interest. He wrote inspiringly of triumphs and sadly of failures, never savaging the fallen. In an age of cutting comments, there was humanity in the way Jim did his job. In 1997, I had a singular experience with Jim when The London Free Press , a family-owned business for 144 years, was put up for sale. Jim and I, and another employee, made an appointment with major financial advisers at One London Place to discuss the possibility of an employee-driven bid for the newspaper. During a long discussion, we learned it was possible. One of the acquisition specialists told us: “You realize, of course, that if you do this, one of the three of you won’t be working at The Free Press.” When we left, Jim said he didn’t want to do something that would result in one third of Free Press employees losing their jobs. Jim cared about that. “We need investors with different values,” he said. With our union’s help, we found more compatible investors and an employee-supported bid was made, unsuccessfully, as it turned out.
Don HackneyMy. condolences are with Jim's family and friends. i'm proud to have had Jim as a friend since high school .Jim always supported my Super Walk for Parkinsons Research . I always enjoyed the "Howie Dinners" Jim organized He was a great story teller and sports writer Rest in peace Jim
Nancy & Bill MundenBill and I would both like to extend our sincere condolences to Jim's family. We both were in the same class as Jim, ever so many years ago when we all attended Scarborough Village Public school. We have lived away from Ontario for more years than one likes to remember, and so the connection with school friends has mostly been lost. As one becomes older, one realizes that friends and connections we had in the past are still very important. We 'pulled' for Jim two years ago when he had his health problems and were happy when he overcame many obstacles. So, at this time we are really saddened that this battle has been lost.
Bernie PascallCanadian sports media has lost an icon. I first met Jim in the mid 60's While I was at CFTO and he was at The Star. We covered the, Leafs, Argos, boxing and Toronto Soccer Falcons. Jim and I "moonlighted" as Stats and PA Announcer for Joe Peters Soccer team. We even travelled together to El Salvador for a soccer camp. Our paths crossed many times during our careers...including visits in Vancouver when Jim was covering events on the coast.He was one of the great guys....I was happy to call him a friend. Deepest condolences to Carol and family....
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