Lester Kern a nationally renowned artist and comic illustrator died after a 3 year battle with prostate cancer on Sept. 11, 2010 at the age of 55 years-old. Kern was born in Milwaukee on Feb. 26, 1955. He attended E. Phillips Grade School, Parkman Junior High School and graduated from Rufus King High School in 1972.
He began his love for art as a child, and it developed through the years. He and his younger brother Harrison were awarded art scholarships from the Milwaukee Art Museum, at the young age of 6 and 10 years old. Kern received his fi rst paying art job at the age of 13 from the Echo Writer’s Workshop.
He received a art scholarship from UW-Superior where he attended for a few years, but didn’t graduate. He was just anxious to do art, and the class room was not his style, according to his younger brother, Harrison.
Kern began illustrating editorial cartoons for The Milwaukee Courier Newspaper in the early 1970’s through the early 1980’s. He eventually went to the Milwaukee Community Journal, where he designed their logo and performed their design layout for sometime. He eventually moved to Atlanta, GA, where he lived up until his death recently. He was actually in the process of planning to move back home to Milwaukee.
“The day he died, Sept. 11, was the original day that we had planned for him to move back here,” his brother stated.
He had produced a tremendous amount of artwork throughout his lifetime. He had one oil painting that was mass produced and became known throughout the world entitled “Footprints”. This piece can be found in homes across the nation. He however did not benefit financially though as much as one would have thought. He is survived by one son, Lester Jr., a sister Deborah Holton, a brother Harrison and his mother Idella, who is 93.
Funeral arrangements are pending, and the family is working on donating some of his signature artwork to the three health care facilities that took care of him during his battle with cancer, Grady Hospital, Emory Hospital in Midtown, and a long term health care facility also in Atlanta where he stayed.