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Victim moved to islands for 'Hawaiian dream,' design work

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 06:28 p.m. HST, Feb 28, 2014

Five years ago, Kathleen Kern moved to the islands to "live the Hawaiian dream" and pursue her passion for urban planning, family members said in an email statement issued Friday.

On Wednesday night, Kern, 50, an urban designer and senior planner for Lanai, died in a plane crash in central Lanai along with pilot Richard "Dick" Rooney and Tremaine Balberdi, a secretary for the planning department.

Three others, Maui Deputy Corporation Counsel James Giroux, planner Doug Miller and geographic information systems analyst Mark King were flown to Queen's Medical Center for treatment of injuries they suffered in the crash. Both Miller and King remained in critical condition at the hospital.

Born in Vancouver, Kern was passionate about urban planning from a young age, said family members. 

She "believed that public spaces were critical to the functioning of communities. She had a particular interest in the process of planning and the involvement of the community in that process."

Kern's family owns an interest in a condominium in Maui and are frequent visitors to the island. Her brother, Ken, has lived and worked in Honolulu for more than 35 years and is a retired physician.

"Kathleen was introduced at an early age to Hawaii and loved visiting and finally being able to live the Hawaiian dream when she moved to Hawaii in 2009 and began working for the County of Maui in the planning department, " the family said.

Kern held several degrees, including: a bachelor's from Trent University; a master's degree from York University -- both in Ontario, Canada; and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She was a doctoral candidate from University of Washington. 

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