The honor for Kernodle, a 1938 graduate who would go on to a successful medical career, was announced during the university's Opening Day ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Dr. Charles E. Kernodle Jr. ’38 has been awarded the Elon Medallion, the university’s highest honor, for his steadfast support for the university and service to the community. The recognition was announced during the university’s Opening Day ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 12, that marks the official start of the academic year.
Kernodle received the medallion during a virtual presentation with President Connie Ledoux Book and Vice President for University Advancement Jim Piatt, who read the citation detailing how Kernodle has contributed to the success of the university through the years.
“Elon has done so much for so many, especially my family,” said Kernodle during the virtual ceremony. “I am just really proud of Elon.”
The Elon Medallion is the most prestigious service award given by the university and is awarded, at the discretion of the president, to members of the Elon community who have rendered loyal and meritorious service to the university at the highest levels.
Kernodle was one of seven children of a farmer and country doctor, and a school teacher, and one of four brothers who would attend what was then Elon College. All four would graduate from Elon and go on to attend Duke Medical School. Leading up to the presentation of the medallion, President Book asked Kernodle what it was like to attend the college during the Great Depression.
“It was real tough, and we only had about 500 students,” Kernodle told Book. “They provided us with a good education, and all four of us were admitted to Duke Medical School without any problem. Elon was there for us when we needed it.”
Kernodle excelled at Elon. He was a member of Sigma Phi Beta fraternity, the Pi Gamma Mu national social science honor society, and served as the marshal at the 1937 commencement. Along with completing his medical training at Duke, Kernodle served faithfully as a U.S. Army chief surgeon, treating American soldiers and prisoners of war in Germany during World War II.
Kernodle then returned to Burlington to establish the renowned Kernodle Clinic with his brother Harold Kernodle and cousin John Robert Kernodle, a clinic that would grow into a multi-specialty group practice with more than 50 medical providers and 15 areas of specialty. Kernodle continued his connection with Elon, particularly with its athletics programs, providing free physicals for local athletes, including those at Elon, and outstanding family health care for generations.
Kernodle served as the Burlington Williams High School football team doctor for a remarkable 70 years. A fixture on the sidelines, he was described by Coach James McGill ’98 as “irreplaceable.” Kernodle faithfully cared for hundreds of Elon University athletes, serving as team physician for several Elon University athletic teams, alongside football coach Sid Varney and basketball coaches Bill Miller and Bill Morningstar.
Kernodle’s benevolence extended into retirement, as he planted more than 500 tomato plants each summer, nurturing and tending the plants, only to distribute their generous bounty to family and friends.
In recognition of his commitment to his community, Kernodle has received the Long Leaf Pine award, the Distinguished Service in Sports Award, the Elon Athletics Distinguished service award, the Russell E. Blunt Legend Award by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, and the football field at Williams High School bears his name. Earlier this year, he was selected for the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
“I am very appreciative and very humbled,” Kernodle said during the medallion ceremony.