Cover photo for David J. Kerness's Obituary
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David J. Kerness

August 31, 1941 — June 26, 2022

David J. Kerness

Trumansburg - David J. Kerness, a handsome, hardworking, talented, sweetheart of a good man died as a result of an accident on June 26, 2022. 

David was born the son of George and Eleanor Gaudiosi Kerness on August 31, 1941 in New York City. He lived in Greenwich Village during his early years surrounded by family.  Like many others he contracted polio while playing in Washington Square Park.  His Mom would talk about talking with Eleanor Roosevelt in the park and also about David being featured in a photo in the NY Daily News getting his first polio vaccine.

When David was still young, his family followed his grandparents to the north shore of Long Island, where David enjoyed many happy, nearly idyllic years. He loved to talk about wonderful summers at Joe Molar’s camp at Short Beach where Joe, David’s beloved grandfather, Nicholas “Poppy” Kerness, and Jimmy Trip held forth.  He remembered with delight Joe cooking a big pot of spaghetti over an open fire, his getting the happy job of rowing for water and special visitors from their friends coming out from NYC for an evening. 

David graduated from Kings Park High School and Clarkson University as a chemical engineer.  He was hired by IBM’s Federal Systems Division in Owego NY and worked there for over 40 years. He was responsible for Quality Engineering for products that would end up in the Gemini space capsule and often mentioned nervously having to reject a product early in his tenure; a decision that upon analysis was clearly the right one.  He later did business development for projects being offered to USPS.  David loved the process of working on those bids, his work colleagues and winning.

He and his first wife, Jane Beckert Kerness developed an interest in Dome homes, became general contractors, helped others build a few in the region and built domes for both their family and David’s mother when she moved to the area.  David fell in love with playing hockey while at Clarkson.  After moving to the southern tier, he became a long-time goal judge for the Binghamton Dusters.  His experience with Cornell Men’s hockey began while at Clarkson and lasted throughout his lifetime, as a season ticket holder for nearly 30 years. Retirement allowed him to get back to boating and fishing on a regular basis.  A day on the water was a good day. 

In 1989, David married Mary Pat Dolan and they shared 33 years together.  Mary Pat’s Mom had told her often she would never marry as she was too picky.  She was almost right, but when she learned that David and MP would marry, she not only approved but was quite sure that her daughter was luckier than she perhaps deserved and had won the husband lottery.

In addition to Mary Pat, David is survived by his daughter Nicole Kerness and husband Tivadar Szegletes, step-daughter Kristin Angstadt and husband Eric, sister Sandra Smith and husband Kenneth, cousin Linda Gaudiosi, Grandchildren, Dylan David Kerness, Finn & Arianna Angstadt. 

In addition to his grandfather, David had a role model in his Uncle ‘Buddy’ (Edward Gaudiosi) who supported him when he was young. He was both a brother and a father to his sister, Sandy Kerness Smith after his father separated from the family.  David and Jane played a large role in the lives of his nieces and nephews; Dan, Rana and Scott Krohmalney, joining Nicki for years of great memories at both the dome and later the lake house. Their spouses and children Heather, Kira and Kaden Krohmalney, Ryan, Cora, Levi and Wyatt Anderson and Christine, Alexis and Nicholas Krohmalney were loved and admired.

He was loving and generous to MP’s daughter Kristin.  He taught her to water ski – an effort that took MANY tries but one which neither would give up until she “got it.”   Together, Dave and Mary Pat held Camp Cayuga for the nieces and nephews from her side of the family. A week of craziness and fun with David being the boat captain, water ski instructor and total funmeister.  That group included Brandon, Megan, Bryan Kelley and Trevor Dolan; Kate, Lainey and Jeff Wilkinson; Leigh and Eric Dolan; Dan and Allison Roder, as well as honorary campers too young for CC years, Jonathan, Madison and McKenzie Dolan.   David considered those experiences “the best thing we ever did.”  He also greatly enjoyed the company of all of MP’s siblings, John Dolan (deceased), Mike and Connie Dolan, Timothy & Jill Dolan; Tom Dolan and Steve Slonaker; Ann Dolan and Jim VanBuskirk; Mark and Sue Dolan, Nancy and Steve Roder, Chris Dolan and Erin Kane and Jim and April Dolan.

David loved family first, life- long friends Joel & Steffi Jager, dear fishing buddy and hockey enthusiast Bill Wanecski, and the other members of the “tool club” triumvirate, Bruce Fredericks and Don Smith.  He was a brave, honorable and generous  man who always looked ahead despite many obstacles. He will be long mourned and forever missed.

David will be interred at Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve.  Contributions in David’s memory can be made to the Cornell Hockey Association, PO Box 4265, Ithaca NY 14850 or the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, 200 E. Buffalo St. #202, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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