Richard “Dick” Kern of Churchill Jewelers in Santa Barbara, has been named the recipient of the California Jewelers Association Robert B. Westover Distinguished Service Award for 2007. He will be presented with the award at a reception Sept. 9 during the West Coast Jewelry Show in Anaheim.
Kern joins an illustrious list of recipients of the prestigious award, named in honor of the CJA’s long-time executive vice president, Robert B. Westover. While Westover retired in 1989, he currently serves as an active member of the CJA Board of Directors as an honorary lifetime director. The award is presented to an individual who has given outstanding service and contributions to the jewelry industry in general and to the CJA in particular. Past recipients include Roger Marks, Rogers Jewelry Co., Modesto; Marion Halfacre, Traditional Jewelers, Newport Beach; Richard Horne, Shreve & Company, San Francisco; Arthur Gleim, Gleim the Jeweler, Palo Alto; Gary J. Long, Gary J. Long Jewelers, Stockton; and Jim Hartstein, Jewels by Joseph, Newport Beach.
Kern served as CJA president from 1960 to 1961, and also served two terms on the board of the Retail Jewelers of America, the forerunner to Jewelers of America. He was a member of the board of directors of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. for 21 years, and was chairman of the board for 13 years.
He began his jewelry industry career in 1937 when he was in junior high school and approached Roy Churchill for a job. Kern was hired and worked after school and on Saturdays, running errands and cleaning cases, and later doing bench work, sizing rings.
In 1941 he entered military service and fought in Europe as a member of Gen. Patton’s Third Army at the Battle of the Bulge, and upon his discharge, returned to Churchill’s, attending the University of California Santa Barbara at the same time. In 1947 Roy Churchill died and Kern ran the store for the estate for several years. In the early 1950s, he purchased the store and he and his family have owned it since.
His daughter Lexi, one of a set of triplets, who serves as president-elect of the CJA, has taken over day-to-day operations of the store and “I now work for her,” he said. His other daughters are Lee, who is a professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and Lynn, who works with autistic children at UC Santa Barbara. Kern lives with his wife Rita in Santa Barbara.