He sought a full term in 2004 but lost to the Republican, Mitch Daniels, and returned to private life. He taught political science at Notre Dame and was president and managing investor of the South Bend Silver Hawks, then a farm club of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was instrumental in keeping the club, now known as the South Bend Cubs, in town.
In the 2011 South Bend mayoral election, Mr. Kernan endorsed Pete Buttigieg, who went on to serve eight years in City Hall before running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Joseph Eugene Kernan III, the oldest of nine children, was born on April 8, 1946, in Chicago. After World War II, his father sold auto and restaurant supplies, then, in 1965, helped kick off Upward Bound, a federally funded program to help underserved high school students prepare for college. Mr. Kernan’s mother, Marian (Powers) Kernan, worked as a communications representative, including for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, where she handled the Pentagon account.
The family moved to South Bend when Joe was 10. When he went to college, he was able to afford tuition by enrolling in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. He married Maggie McCullough in 1974.
He is survived by his wife, a senior vice president of 1st Source Bank, based in South Bend; his brother, Terry; and his sisters Maureen, Barbara, Madeline, Kelly, Jenny and Susan. Another sister, Mary Pat, died three years ago.