Francis J. "Frank" Kerins died peacefully surrounded by loving family members on Oct. 2, 2014, after a brief illness. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 23, 1927. He received a bachelor’s degree from St. Francis College in New York, a master’s degree from St. Louis University and a doctorate from the University of Denver. He served on active duty with the United States Army during the Korean War. His career was dedicated to his passion for education. He taught philosophy at Loretta Heights College in Denver and higher education at the University of Denver. He served as college president for 22 years, including at Carroll College, in Helena, from 1974 through 1989, as well as at Northern Montana College in Havre. He was awarded honorary doctorates by several colleges and universities.
Frank was active in a wide range of educational and community agencies and was chairman of the board of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Northern Commission of Colleges, the United Way, the Helena Symphony Society, the Helena Rotary Club and other organizations. He served as a board member of various groups, including the American Council for Education, Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and the Montana Committee for the Humanities. In 1987, at a convocation of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in New Orleans, he was privileged to address Pope John Paul II on behalf of American Catholic Higher Education.
His family and friends loved and admired him. His quick wit, warm smile and caring nature brightened everyone’s lives. His wisdom and generosity were cherished by those who were blessed to know him. His love of learning and knowledge were evident throughout his life. He loved to read, travel and share stories on just about any topic. He had a strong faith and lived his life according to his beliefs. He was guided by God’s will and led by example. When giving thanks in prayer, often over a meal, he encouraged his friends and family to always be mindful of the needs of others. He was a good man.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Mary Costigan Kerins; seven children, Mary Ellen Hayes (James) of Champaign, Illinois, John (Eva) of Neenah, Wisconsin, Donna Zelinski (Joseph) of Newark, Illinois, Edward (Peggy) and Jim of Helena, Frank Jr. of Bozeman and Joseph of Whitehall; 22 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents and seven brothers and sisters.
A vigil service will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N. Montana Ave. Funeral Mass will take place at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the Cathedral of St. Helena. Rite of committal service will follow at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison. A reception will be held in the lower level of Carroll College in the Cube. Memorials in Dr. Kerins' name are suggested to the Mary Costigan-Kerins Scholarship Fund, c/o Carroll College, 1601 Benton Ave., Helena, MT 59601; or to a charity of the donor’s choice. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer the family condolences or to share a memory of Francis.