Obituaries

Stephanie Franco Kerns

Stephanie Franco Kerns was born on July 12, 1950, in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, to parents Florence Franco Duncan and Salvatore Franco, where she grew up with her older brother Gary Franco. She graduated from Bensalem High School, in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, in the top one percent of her class, and has completed studies for a bachelor’s degree in business administration. 

Ms. Kerns began her civil service career on January 26, 1970 with the IRS Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Already well versed in five languages, she was selected three months later to attend advanced foreign language training in tax terminology. Following this four-month immersion training, she was promoted to taxpayer service representative and later as a foreign language tax examiner. As well as being the IRS foreign language liaison officer, she also authored a training package used in all IRS offices throughout the United States. During her tenure she was a member of the Board of directors of the Service Center’s Federal Credit Union. 

On August 21, 1971 she married her husband Captain Thomas J. Kerns Jr. In 1972 she and her husband welcomed their first child, Brett J. Kerns. In 1975 they welcomed a daughter, Gina M. Kerns. 

In July of 1976 her husband was reassigned to Bitburg AB, Germany. She continued her civil service career, and served in a collateral capacity as the Federal Women’s Program Manager for both Bitburg and Spangdahlem Air Bases. 

Ms. Kerns once again relocated due to her husband’s Air Force career, this time to Raleigh, North Carolina with her family in September of 1980. Her career began a downward spiral when she had to accept a secretarial position with the EPA in order to maintain her career status with civil service. 

In September of 1982, her husband was reassigned to Offutt AFB, Nebraska, where Ms. Kerns was the Executive Secretary for Air Force Global Weather Central and was later promoted to Office Manager and Inspection Team Member for the Strategic Air Command Office of the Inspector General. She was selected as Offutt AFB Civilian of the Year and was SAC’s nominee for the Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award. She was also Vice President of the American Business Women’s Association and served as Chairperson of the Auditing Committee. 

Just when her career was once again on the upswing, her husband was reassigned, this time to Langley AFB, Virginia, where she became Executive Secretary to the Commander of the 1st Equipment Maintenance Squadron. 

Now in the twilight of her mediocre career, Ms. Kerns accepted her last position as Executive Assistant to the Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations 2nd Field Investigations Region in September of 1992. She retired from this position in December of ’06, after almost 37 years of service. She was frequently asked to be a guest speaker at local schools on Career Day in the “Don’t Let This Happen to You” category. 

Ms. Kerns is preceded in death by her loving husband of 28 years, Captain Thomas J. Kerns Jr., her mother Florence Duncan, father Salvatore Franco, step-father Robert Duncan, her brother Gary Franco, and her best friend Betty Overman. She is survived by her children, Brett J. Kerns and Gina Kerns Garcia, Son-in-law Victor Garcia; and her granddaughters Brianna Skye Kerns, Madeleine Elizabeth Kerns, Stephanie “Bella” Garcia, Bianca Italia Garcia. She leaves behind her dear friends Linda Boyle and her cousin Joann “Nookie” Scocca, as well as those she cared for so deeply. 

A celebration of Stephanie’s life will be held Thursday, February 10, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Peninsula Funeral Home.  A graveside service will be held Friday, February 11, 1:00 p.m. at Peninsula Memorial Park. The CDC highly recommends masks for inside gatherings.  

Major Awards and Recognitions
  • Offutt AFB Civilian of the Year
  • Jewel of Bellevue Award
  • Commissioned as an Honorary Admiral in the Nebraska State Navy 
  • USAF Thunderbirds Inspection Team Member
  • Outstanding Young Woman of Omaha Finalist 
  • Ten Outstanding Young Omahans Finalist 
  • American Business Women’s Association Woman of the Year 
  • 2nd Field Investigations Regions Innovator of the Year Award
  • Governor’s Medal of Life Award (Virginia)
  • Number One Nonna Lifetime Achievement Award 

15 Comments

  1. Brad Houston

    Stephanie, I will miss our chats and discussions of days gone by. You were an awesome friend and we’ll meet again on the other side.

  2. Francis R Ferron

    Military spouses are the backbone of the career military. The fact that she was able not only to support her active duty spouse but was also able to contribute in her own right to the mission of several military units speaks highly of her abilities. Rest in Peace warrior. You did your part.

  3. Allyn Penkethman

    I am so saddened to hear of Stephanie’s passing. I had the privilege of working with her at the AFOSI office at Langley AFB from 1994-1998. She was a beautiful person.

  4. Rob Jakcsy

    Gina and Family,
    You are in my thoughts and prayers. Stephanie was such a wonderful lady and friend. She mentored so many in her years of service.

  5. Steve Coppinger

    When I was at the EFIS in Qatar, she gave great support and advice for our many agents in the Theater. She was just outstanding. RIP 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    • Tracy & Frank Malafarina

      Stephanie was a bright light & wonderful asset to OSI. She is greatly missed. We are heartbroken knowing she is no longer here. Our deepest prayers go out to Gina & Brett, may God hold you near. 🙏🏻🙏🏻❣❣

  6. Francis X. Taylor, BGen, USAF (Ret)

    I hired Stephanie for her final civilian job at AFOSI Région 2. She was a remarkable woman and partner for me and my team. She will be missed by all who benefited from her graciousness for all who sought her assistance. A life well lived as it touched so many.

  7. Francis X Taylor, BGen, USAF (Ret)

    I hired Stephanie to be my executive assistant at OSI in 1992. She was an exceptional employee and well loved by all who had the pleasure to work with her. Always pleasant and helpful, she brought great joy to all in our office. On behalf of OSI and all of the people that she touched, I want to extend my deepest sympathy for your loss.

  8. Tom Welch

    The most caring and dedicated person to “run” 2FIR. She made everyone a priority! Great friend and confidant. She will be remembered by all who knew her. God Bless her.

  9. Michael Roberts

    Just a lovely, joyous, and caring person. I’m so grateful to have been able to work along side of her and to be her friend. I offer my deepest sympathy, may God bless, and may she rest in peace.

  10. Mark Lunardi

    I had the honor of getting to know Stephanie when I entered OSI in 1996. As a fellow Pennsylvanian we immediately hit it off and continued our friendship throughout her years in the command. She was a kind, warm and generous person who was beloved by all around her! Deepest sympathies to her family, and all who knew and loved her. Fair winds and following seas my friend!

  11. Tammy Price

    I am so sorry for your loss. Stephanie was the best friend my Momma could ever have. My Momma was there welcoming your Momma home. I know they are in heaven watching over use. Love ya Gina I am always here for you. Our Mommas will watch over us always. All my love TammyJo

  12. Tammy

    I am so sorry for your loss. Stephanie was the best friend my Momma could ever have. My Momma was there welcoming your Momma home. I know they are in heaven watching over use. Love ya Gina I am always here for you. Our Mommas will watch over us always. All my love TammyJo

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