In Memory of





Obituary for Joseph B. McKernan Jr.

Joseph B. McKernan, Jr., 75, beloved husband for 54 years of Irene (Sylvestre) McKernan, of Pawcatuck, passed away at the Westerly Hospital on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.

Born in New London, CT he was the son of the late Joseph McKernan, Sr. and Joyce McKernan, as well as his adoptive mother, the late Shirley McKernan

Joseph was a graduate of Stonington High School, class of 1966. He earned his BS, MS and 6th year certificate from Southern Connecticut State University.

Retiring in 2008, he spent 37 years at the Stonington High School as a teacher in the science department and held administrative roles in science and athletics. In his tenure, he taught siblings and many other family members and often was known in the school as “Uncle Joe” or “Pops”. He was driven to form the character of youth both in and out of the classroom and spent many years as a coach of several sports including wrestling, baseball, golf, and football. He enjoyed working at Elm Ridge Golf Course with many close friends during the summer and following retirement.

As a pillar of the community, he continued his work supporting several organizations including the Knights of Columbus, Stonington Recreation Commission, Stonington High School Hall of Fame Committee, and was an active member of St. Mary’s parish. In his spare time, he loved golfing, spending time with family and friends, and cheering on New England and UCONN teams. He adored his grandkids and supported them in all they do.

He is survived by his high school sweetheart and loving wife, Irene; daughter Paula Boulanger and husband Bryan of Ada, OH; son Scott McKernan and wife Audrey of Naples, FL; and nine grandchildren, Liam, Alden, Neilan, Maire, Nevan, Eala, Keira, Kiley and Meaghan. Joe also leaves behind his siblings, Janis McKernan-Markoff of Blackstone, MA, Jeffrey McKernan (Donna) of Concord, NC, Jay McKernan (Gail) of Groton, CT, Jody Roby of Pawcatuck, Jill LaPiana (Fred) of Myrtle Beach, SC, and Michael McKernan also of Pawcatuck. He also leaves behind many more family members; you know who you are and he loved you all.

Special thanks to the Westerly Hospital and Beacon Hospice for all of the care provided to Joe and support they’ve given to the family.

Visiting hours will be held on Sunday from 2pm – 5pm at Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, 59 Spruce St., Westerly. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11am on Monday at St. Mary’s Church, 95 Main St., Stonington. There is no procession to church from the funeral home. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Stonington. In lieu of flowers contribution may be made in Joe’s memory to the Knights of Columbus, Nina Council No 43, PO Box 141, Stonington, CT 06378 or SHS Class of 1966, c/o Fred Souza, 19 Owens Dr., Stonington, CT 06378. For online condolences please visit