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Wally Received the FSD Distinguished Alumnus Award


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Kern, Fisher to be inducted into FSD Hall of Fame

Excepts of the Announcement from the Frankenmuth News, August 23, 2017.


Wallace A. Kern and Bill Fisher will be honored by the Frankenmuth School District this fall.

The fourth annual FSD Hall of Fame Banquet will be held on Friday, October 13, with a noon luncheon at the Bronner Performing Arts Center.

Kern will be honored as a Distinguished Alumnus and Fisher as a Champion for Children.

Kern and Fisher will begin their long weekend by dining with the Frankenmuth Noon Rotary Club on Thursday, October 12. Following their Friday luncheon, the two will ride in the 6pm Homecoming Parade and be recognized at halftime of the football game between the Eagles and Caro.

Tickets for the luncheon will be available next week.  Call the FSD Office at 652-9958 to reserve a seat.

Wallace Kern has led a fascinating life, which is one of the reasons why he has been chosen to be honored. From farming to fighter jets, Kern has done it all, and what makes his story so inspiring is that his success has not come easily.

Kern grew up on an 80-acre farm just outside of Frankenmuth. He began his education at St. Lorenz Lutheran School in 1946, only knowing one word in the English language: butter.

His school experience was trying; he struggled with a speech impediment, stuttering, and his classmates bullied him mercilessly for it. His stuttering affected his self-esteem, and even though Wally has battled with its effects on his life since his school days, he now realizes that his stuttering made him more determined to overcome its debilitating effects. It made him work harder and want more.

At a time when many farm kids quit school after eighth grade, Kern found a passion in math and science. In these fields, Kern found a language in which he could fully immerse himself, one he could completely understand.

Kern also credits a special teacher, Mr. Robert Wallen, for having faith in his abilities as a math student. When Wally’s mother expressed her doubts about his chances of passing algebra, teacher Wallen convinced her to let him give it a shot. He passed the class successfully, which paved the way for increasingly difficult math classes and foreshadowed a spectacular career where equations and algorithms were just a part of his job.

Having grown up on a farm, Kern already fostered an intense curiosity about machinery, a curiosity that, in combination with his new scientific interests, would eventually propel him to the kind of career that most kids only dream about.

After graduating from Frankenmuth High School in 1958, Kern earned a bachelor’s degree with a focus on physics and mathematics. After attending Michigan State University with a graduate assistantship in physics, Wally began work as an electrical engineer on the Gemini program at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis.

For the rest of his career, he would work on highly-technical, cutting-edge projects in the golden age of the aerospace industry.

After his work on the Gemini and Skylab programs, Kern worked on some of the most capable military jets of the last half century, including the F-18 and F-15. He has worked on the guidance systems for Tomahawk missiles and smart bombs.

During his 39 years as an engineer, Kern has indeed worked on projects that everybody has heard of, but few truly understand, and he accomplished all in spite of scoring “quite low in academic proficiency tests upon entering his freshman year of college.”

“Wally is the definition of our small-town spirit, never giving up in the face of adversity, delivering more than he promises,” FSD Superintendent Adele Martin said.

Wally and his late wife Ann, and their two children, Katherine and Michael, spent many enjoyable summers touring Europe and exploring their genealogical history. Now retired, Wally still spends time gardening, woodworking, and studying local history, in addition to an avocation he picked up in high school, photography.


Wallace A. Kern

The Award on October 13, 2017






2017 FSD Hall of Fame inductees

HALL OF FAME HONOREES: The Frankenmuth School District held its fourth annual Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, October 13, at the Bronner Performing Arts Center. Family and friends gathered for the luncheon, catered by the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, to honor Wally Kern, far left, and Bill Fischer, at the left. Kern was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus and Fischer as a Champion of Children. Frankenmuth School District Superintendent Adele Martin was the master of ceremonies and presented Kern and Fischer with their respective plaques. Judy Zehnder-Keller addressed the gathering as well, adding remarks about the two men. It was Zehnder-Keller's idea to create the Hall of Fame and honor those alumnus who have made their mark in the world as well as individuals who have impacted students in the district, going above and beyond the call of duty. Past Distinguished Alumni were Dave Hubinger, Dr. Craig Mayes and Philip Feigner. Past Champion of Children recipients were Jerry Hennessy, Doris Koopman and Dr. Harold "Gus" Braeutigam. (Frankenmuth News, October 18, 2017)


Photos From Ceremony and Parade



The Frankenmuth School District

is proud to present

The 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award


Mr. Wally Kern


The Distinguished Alumnus Award is bestowed

upon alumni with significant professional

achievement and notable community service

and humanitarian contributions.


Distinguished alumni have personified

the Frankenmuth tradition of excellence

and they bring distinction and honor

to their Alma Mater.

Contents of Award and Ceremony Program