Death of Dr. Charles E. Kernodle Jr. ’38

Kernodle, a recipient of the Elon Medallion for his service to the university, passed away Saturday, Sept. 26, at the age of 102.

Dr. Charles E. Kernodle Jr. ’38, who served the Burlington community during his long and successful medical career and worked with student-athletes at Elon and local school, died Saturday, Sept. 26, at the age of 102.

Kernodle was presented the Elon Medallion, the university’s highest honor and a recognition of valuable service to the institution, during the Opening Day ceremony in August. “Elon has done so much for so many, especially my family,” said Kernodle during the virtual ceremony. “I am just really proud of Elon.”

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.

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.

Dr. Kernodle is survived by his sons; Jim Kernodle (Janice) of Burlington, Charlie Kernodle (Dianne) of Garner, his sister-in-law, Lucy Wilson Kernodle of Burlington, and his many adoring nieces and nephews and their families.

A graveside service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Authoracare Hospice of Burlington or a charity of your choice.

Read the funeral home tribute.