The Honorable Francis J. Kearns
Former State Senator
August 21, 1933 – November 10, 2015
Francis J. Kearns, age 82, of Lewes, DE and formerly of New Castle, DE, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Tuesday, November 10, 2015.
Born in Cleveland, OH on August 21, 1933, Fran was the son of the late James Henry Kearns and Matilda (Jacubec) Kearns. He moved along with his family to Delaware in 1936 and would later attend Salesianum High School, graduating in 1951. Well-liked by his classmates, a yearbook quote read, “Dust off another pedestal in the Hall of Fame…here comes Fran…living proof that the farm can be taken out of the boy…Honor Roll…plain spoken…full of fun…made many friends in school…and out….must we explain?” Fran received his undergraduate degree in agriculture from the University of Delaware. He proudly served his country as a member of the Army Reserves (SSgt) where he specialized in both the artillery and civil affairs sections and was honorably discharged in July of 1963. Fran married the love of his life, Elizabeth McAndrew in July of 1956. His first job was spent working as a farmhand for Willy DuPont, now Bellevue State Park. He later worked in various departments for Sears & Roebuck in the 1960’s at the store formerly located at 30th and Market Streets in Wilmington. Fran became very active in the Delaware Democratic Party and was elected as a state senator serving in the 127th through 130th General Assemblies. Prior to his retirement from political service in 1980, he was responsible for sponsoring numerous bills regarding judiciary, corrections and child support issues, including, legal representation for public officers, voter registration by mail, candidates filing for primary elections, family court and custody, creation of the Office of the Public Advocate, CCP and drug possession, lawful hunting devices and issues surrounding marriage and psychiatric patients. Fran was appointed as the Deputy Administrator for the Wilmington Public Defender’s Office, serving from 1969 until 1995. During his tenure there, he was tasked with overseeing investigations, preliminary hearings and bail functions, as well as day to day operations. After 26 years of service, Fran retired but would continue his work as a Hunter Safety Instructor at the Ommelanden Range, where he began teaching classes in the early 1970’s.
An avid outdoorsman, he loved swimming, fishing, hunting and skeet shooting at the range. Fran had been a parishioner of both Our Lady of Fatima and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. He was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a member of the board of directors for the Howard J. Weston Senior Center. Above all else, Fran will be remembered as a loving and devoted husband, father, brother, grandfather and uncle and will be very dearly missed.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Elizabeth (McAndrew) Kearns; son, Matthew J. Kearns; and granddaughter, Justine J. Kearns. Fran is survived by his children, Christopher J. Kearns (Kathleen) of New Castle, Patrick D. Kearns of Earleville, MD, Elizabeth F. Constant (David) of Fort Mill, SC, and Mary Clare Kearns (Mitchell Jagielski) of Lewes, DE; sister, Mary Ann Kearns of Wilmington, DE; 6 grandchildren; and 6 great grandchildren.
The family wishes to express their sincere thanks to the staff of Delaware Hospice, Harbor Health Care, Peggy Carbone of Visiting Angels and Dr. Thomas F. Kelly for the excellent care given to Fran during his illness and also to the Eucharistic ministers of St. Jude the Apostle R.C. Church in Lewes.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 2 pm until 4 pm on Sunday afternoon, November 15, 2015 at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 1000 N. DuPont Parkway, New Castle, DE. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 am on Monday morning, November 16, 2015, at Our Lady of Fatima R.C. Church, 801 N. DuPont Parkway, New Castle, DE. Interment will follow in All Saints Cemetery, 6001 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington, DE.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Fran’s memory may be made to the Delaware Hospice, 100 Patriots Way, Milford, DE 19963, Howard J. Weston Senior Center, 1 Bassett Ave, New Castle, DE 19720 or to Salesianum High School Developmental Fund, 1801 N. Broom St., Wilmington, DE 19802.