Pass Christian-resident David Kernion lives life to the fullest, and at age 70 does not plan to slow down.
The retired civil engineer recently added acting in Bay St. Louis community theater productions to a list of activities that includes competitive bass fishing, league softball, championship powerlifting, weeklong snow skiing trips to Wyoming and fishing the Mississippi Sound for tripletails, speckled trout, redfish, as he said, “anything that will bite a hook.”
His lengthy engineering career included stints in Houston and Baton Rouge that took the New Orleans native all over the world to Trinidad, Indonesia, North Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Europe and Singapore.
Kernion credits his professional success to “getting up earlier in the morning to start planning and outpacing the competition, and immersing myself in the cultures of foreign lands to better understand their problems and needs and to make the work experience more enjoyable.”
Indeed, his greagarious and competitive nature has made him a success in all the endeavors he has attempted.
Beginning in his 40s, he said he started playing league softball with a competitive team.
As he entered his early 50s, his teammates suggested he begin weightlifting to maintain his homerun power. That led to a run that featured setting state records in Louisiana Masters 2 and 3 Powerlifting, and to winning gold medals for the sport in the Senior Olympics, all while in his 50s and 60s.
Earning those distinctions included lifting 400 pounds in the squat and dead lift.
“I was weak in the bench press,” he said, “lifting only 225 pounds.”
With the added strength in his legs, one of which is affected with polio from birth, Kernion took up snow skiing in his 50s, skiing down black diamond runs in the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole Wyoming.
At age 65, he went on a seven-day ski trip with friends.
Now, he said, he is mostly content to spend his time on his 26 foot Scarab Sport boat with a 300 horsepower motor, taking friends and family in search of the Mississippi Coast’s plentiful bounty.
“I started fishing at age 12 in Waveland and Bay St. Louis with my father, Al Kernion, on the Waveland seawall in his 12-foot dinghy,” he said.
Ultimately, when his father reached age 66, Kernion decided it was time to get a bigger boat and take his dad fishing. He named his Scarab Sport “Captain Al’s Speck Crewsader” in honor of his father.
That boat is now docked at Kernion’s home in the Timber Ridge Subdivision, with access to the Bay of St. Louis.
“I have absolutely no interest in fishing competitively or as a guide for money,” despite his knowledge of every hot fishing hole from Gulfport to Waveland in the Mississippi Sound and the Louisiana marsh.
“It was my dream to enjoy seeing friends, my children and my grandchildren reel in fish,” he said. “And I enjoy fishing now as much as I did when I was 12.”
Wife and partner, Beth
He credits his wife, Beth, as a wonderful partner in living the good life, and with whom he will celebrate his 49th anniversary this month.
“She has been the saint in all this,” he said, “with the job, the powerlifting and the fishing.”
They make the most of what the Coast has to offer, sampling the seafood he didn’t catch at their favorite restaurants and attending theater from Gulfport to the Bay, and enjoying recent concerts in Biloxi by the Commodores, Kool and the Gang and Three Dog Night.
“Those who think age is an excuse for not enjoying life to the fullest are kidding themselves and just need to get out and do it,” Kernion said.