In Memory of





Obituary for Michael J. "Turtle" McKernan

Michael J. McKernan, 63, of Pawcatuck Avenue, Pawcatuck, CT, passed away at Kent Hospital in Warwick, RI on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 after a 2 year battle with ALS.

He was born in Westerly, son of the late Shirley M. (Kenyon) and Joseph B. McKernan, Sr.

Michael was employed as a pipefitter for Electric Boat in Groton, CT for 38 years. At EB, he was given the nickname Turtle which he proudly embraced throughout his life. During this time, he became the Fire Chief of the Ledyard Fire Dept for 20 years and remains a lifetime member. Michael has many friends throughout the fire depts in the area.

His greatest joy was finding so many McKernan cousins as Descendants of Thomas McKernan through his genealogy search and was able to meet many when he helped to organize a Reunion in New York, Despite being ill, he attended his last reunion in August 2022. Michael enjoyed going on cruises with his firefighter buddies and friends around the world. He also found a lot of joy hosting his weekly cooking video, sharing many grilling recipes.

Michael leaves 5 siblings, Janis L. McKernan-Markoff of Blackstone, MA, Jeffrey B. McKernan (Donna) of Concord, NC, Jay B. McKernan (Gail) of Groton, CT, Jody L. Roby of Westerly, RI, Jill L. LaPiana (Fred) of Myrtle Beach, SC and a dear sister-n-law Irene McKernan of Pawcatuck, as well as 12 nieces and nephews and 28 great nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Joseph B. McKernan, Jr, of Pawcatuck.
Turtle also leaves his special family and friends, Stephen and Lisa Johnson of Exeter, RI who spent nearly every day with him at the rehab center.

The family wishes to express our deepest thank you to our niece, Holly McKernan for ensuring Michael got the care and treatments he needed.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made in Michael's memory to: Connecticut Firemen's Historical Society, 230 Pine Street, Manchester, CT 06040.

Visiting hours will be held from 4pm to 7 pm on Thursday, February 8, 2024 at Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, 59 Spruce Street, Westerly. A Funeral Liturgy will take place at 10:00 am on Friday, February 9, 2024 at St. Michael Church, 60 Liberty St., Pawcatuck. There is no procession from the funeral home to the church. Burial will follow at St. Michael Cemetery, Stillman Avenue Ext., Pawcatuck. For online condolences please visit