Mr. William M. Kearns, Jr. passed away Saturday, September 26, 2020, surrounded by his family at his beloved home, “12 Pines” in New Vernon, NJ. He was known as a family man, a businessman and a sportsman.
Mr. Kearns began his long and storied career as an investment banker in 1958 with the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City. His career spanned many decades as a Senior Partner and Managing Director with Lehman Brothers, as Co-Chairman of Keefe Managers, LLC, and as the Founder and President of W.M. Kearns & Co. until the time of his passing. During his career, he served as a Director of 16 corporate boards, including EQ Advisors Trust, Wilson Sporting Goods, Selective Insurance Group, Gibson Greeting Cards, Transistor Devices and Keefe Managers, LLC among others.
His dedication and contributions to numerous charities included long-time involvement with The Boy Scouts of America NYC, the board of the Simon Business School at University of Rochester, on the President’s Council of the University of Maine, and was a 15-year board member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI.
Locally, Mr. Kearns was a past President for the Tri-County Scholarship Fund and Chairman of the New Vernon Cemetery Association. He served as Co-chairman to the U.S. Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation of NJ and served on the board at the Morris Museum, Morris County Golf Club and Foundation for Morristown Medical Center. One of his most cherished legacies was establishing the Patricia A. Kearns Endowment Fund in support of womens’ cancer in honor of his late wife of more than 49 years.
His Roman Catholic faith played a significant role in his life, and he was a longtime parishioner of The Church of Christ the King in New Vernon. He participated on the Cardinal’s Committee of the Laity (NYC) and on the Diocese of Paterson Investment Committee. Mr. Kearns was honored to be a Knight of Malta and a Knight of St. Gregory the Great, a Papal designation, the award for which he was most proud.
Mr. Kearns was a graduate of the University of Maine, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1957. He received a Master’s Degree from New York University, and also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves for 6 years, between 1955 and 1961. He was a member of many clubs and organizations, including Palm Beach Polo & Country Club in Wellington, FL, the Mid-Ocean Club of Bermuda, the Rolling Rock Club of Ligonier, PA, The Morristown Club, Morris Country Golf Club, the Log Cabin Gun Club in Watchung, NJ and he was the Founder of the Green Jacket Club, a sporting clays club at the Homestead in Virginia.
He was married to Patricia Anne Wright Kearns until her passing in 2006. He is survived by his wife Anne Fiske Kearns of New Vernon. He is also survived by his five children, Mr. William M. Kearns III (Linda) of New Vernon, NJ, Mrs. Susan Hubbard (Eric) of Summit, NJ, Ms. Kathleen Kearns of New Vernon, NJ, Mr. Michael Kearns (Katherine) of Mendham, NJ and Mrs. Elizabeth Leonard (James) of Norfolk, MA. He is also survived by his eight grandchildren, Peter and Kyle Hubbard, Brendan and Margaret Kearns, Audrey and James Leonard and Morgan and Brynn Kearns.
Visiting hours will be held at the Bradley Funeral Home in Chatham, NJ on Wednesday, September 30th, from 4-8 PM. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private celebration of his life will be held at The Church of Christ the King followed by a private burial at the New Vernon Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Patricia A. Kearns Endowment Fund at the Foundation for Morristown Medical Center.