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James P. Kern, 65, contractor in Orchard Park, sports car enthusiast

Nov. 17, 1951 – June 6, 2017

James P. Kern, an excavation and landscaping company owner, died Tuesday in his Orchard Park home after a 16-month battle with bladder cancer. He was 65.

Born in Lackawanna, he attended Orchard Park High School and worked as a mechanic and welder.

In 1985, he founded Kern Construction, which specialized in excavations for drain tile and residential sewer, water and electric lines, foundations and driveways, primarily in the Town of Orchard Park. Known for his down-to-earth personality and for never cutting corners on his projects, he closed operations at the end of last year.

Mr. Kern persevered through many medical problems, beginning with kidney failure as a boy. He received two kidney transplants, the most recent from his brother Dan in 1984. In Feburary 2016, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and took part in a clinical trial at Roswell Park Cancer Institute earlier this year.

He enjoyed owning and working on sports cars, the most recent being a special edition 2007 Ford Mustang that he acquired last year.

He also enjoyed camping with his wife, watching NASCAR racing and the Buffalo Bills, and flying his drone aircraft.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, the former Denise Manley, a school nurse at Global Concepts Charter School; two sons, Adam and Benjamin; two brothers, Dan and Thomas; and three sisters, Carol Croft, Barbara Erickson and Kathy Kempston.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday in Lombardo Funeral Home, 3060 Abbott Road, Orchard Park.

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