RICHARD "RAY" KERN THROUGH THE YEARS
1. MY BROTHER JOE AND I; 2. GREENHOUSE - MY BAND IN THE 1990s; 3. ME BEING A CLOWN FOR THE CAMERA; 4. THE AWESOME REPUBLICAN WOMEN WHO SUPPORT ME; 5. MYSELF, FORMER JUDGE CHARLES RICE, HIS SON - SETH, AND OTHERS AFTER A DAY OF HUNTING (I DON'T THINK WE ACTUALLY SHOT ANYTHING THAT DAY); 6. ORAL ARGUMENTS AT THE NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS; 7. MY MOTHER AT A FUNDRAISING EVENT; 8. MY LOVELY WIFE DARA AND I; 9. PLAYING MUSIC AT THE SEAWITCH IN CAROLINA BEACH; 10. LT. GOV. MARK ROBINSON; 11. MY MOTHER, BROTHER, AND ME; 12. HIGH SCHOOL ME WITH THE HAIR; 13. ME AND MY FAMILY; 14. PLAYING MUSIC IN THE 1990s; 15. LAW SCHOOL GRADUATION WITH DAD; 16. TARGET PRACTICE.
MY FULL STORY (FOR THE BRAVE OF HEART)
I was born in Warrensburg, New York, in February of 1975. My father was a recent graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering. He had worked his way through college as a laborer doing highway construction but, after graduating, now found himself as a mosquito remediation specialist in the summer and a snowmobile trail groomer in the winter. At the time of my birth, he was somewhere in the Adirondack mountains driving a snow cat and received the call on his CB radio. My mother, for most of my life, has been a homemaker and a great one at that.
Sometime thereafter, while driving my uncle to the US Army recruiter's office in Glens Falls, New York, my father decided the US Navy would be preferable to driving a mosquito truck or a snow cat and he joined the Navy as an officer. We moved from Warrensburg, New York, to Norfolk, Virginia - I was a toddler.
From Norfolk we then moved to Newport News, Virginia, living in - what I vaguely recall - was an old victorian house turned into apartments in a poor area of town. From there, and after my father's stint in the Navy, my family moved to Louisa, Virginia, where my father worked as an electrical field engineer for VEPCO (Virginia Electric Power Company). At this point I was maybe five years of age, my brother and my first sister had been born. We lived on a small farm, in a very old farm house. I remember looking through the gaps in the kitchen floorboard into the dirt crawlspace below after my father lost a pancake he had poorly flipped out of the pan. I recall him allowing me to sit on his lap and "drive" his truck down our long driveway. I recall my brother stabbing himself through his foot with a pitchfork and having ticks removed from when I played in the woods near our house.
From Louisa we moved to Yakima, Washington, where my father worked as an engineer at a power plant and my mother stayed home taking care of us. Yakima was not the lush forested Washington State seen in most movies and television shows, sure we could see the mountains not too far away but where we were reminds me now of high plains - I recall building tumbleweed forts. I started school in Washington state. I was a campfire boy there and many of my memories of Washington are of the winters with snowball fights and snow angels. My first career day I went as a lawyer prompted greatly, I'm sure, from all the Perry Mason reruns I watched at that time.
We were not in Yakima too long before we moved again, this time to Rockford, Illinois, where my father worked at the Byron nuclear power plant. I started school in Washington but I finished first grade in Rockford. During the move to Rockford we took a long looping route from Washington to Illinois, a sort of family vacation down through California, over to Nevada, then up to Montana, Wyoming, etc. We packed everything we owned and traveled in a truck bed camper. I remember having a wonderful day at Disneyland until we left the park and found our truck and camper had been stolen. We lost everything we owned my father's guns, my mother's jewelry, my sister's heart medication, and most distressingly to me and my brother, our new glow-in-the-dark legos. I still remember us walking into the newly rebuilt MGM Grand Hotel in Vegas with garbage bags for suitcases, we were homeless technically, and we looked and smelled like it. Luckily, and before security could escort us away, my father revealed his gold card. That is all I remember of Vegas.
We eventually made it to Rockford, Illinois, the home town of Cheap Trick and Aidan Quinn. We lived in Rockford for about 4 years. I went to Catholic School in Rockford. We lived in a split level house on a cul de sac in a decent neighborhood. I had many friends and many adventures in Rockford including my first concert, Chuck Mangione - I started playing trumpet shortly thereafter. I wanted to be either a judge or a musician.
In 1985, at the age of ten, we moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. I started at Gregory Elementary school in fifth grade where I recall Mrs. Newsome being very kind and I recall I drove Mrs. Jessups crazy with my antics. Sixth grade found me at the brand new Myrtle Grove Middle School. At this time, I started playing bass guitar and left the trumpet largely behind. Seventh and eighth grade I went to Roland-Grise middle school and then Hoggard High School. At Hoggard, I was a middling student. I refused to do homework, I did not study, I read everything, in fact, I was a voracious reader early on and was continually frustrated by the slow pace of the classroom. Thus, I often ignored "chapter assignments" and the like and just read ahead. In high school, I began playing music around town and missed many days of school because I was up late playing somewhere. My grades were not good, but my test scores were excellent and those test scores got me through well enough. I took a lot of vocational classes feeling, at the time, that practical skills would serve me better in the long run; so, classes like automotive, electrical, computer, and shop helped keep my grades up. In my junior year, 1992, My brother, Joseph, and I were passengers in a friend's car and had a major accident. I walked away, the friend sustained some pretty bad injuries but lived, my brother did not - he was 15 years old. After that, I cared even less about school and even more about just playing music. I graduated from Hoggard in 1993 and immediately began a career as a professional musician. I played throughout North Carolina and all along the eastern United States from Key West, Florida, to Jaynesville, Wisconsin. In Wilmington, I played at the old Mad Monk, the new Mad Monk, Jacob's Run, Orton's/Bessie's, everywhere and anywhere I could. At 18 years of age, I was driving a 40 foot tour bus, traveling this great country, playing in giant venues and tiny dive bars and everything in between. It was quite the education - a real world, grow up quick kinda education. A lot of people assume it was a lot of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but in reality my band had 8-10 guys on the road and there was driving, playing, load-in, load-out, bookkeeping, taxes, equipment repair, and practice which were more important than partying. There were some crazy times, fun times, and some girls, but mostly it was work.
In 1998, the band broke up and I started working almost immediately for the film industry in Wilmington. First, as a utility and, by my second film, as a prop maker/carpenter and even as an extra in one or two movies. I worked in about 10 or so movies. Most pretty bad. In-between movies, I framed houses, usually on Bald head Island. My goal was to save money to go to college. Around 1999, Movies started going to Canada where the labor was cheaper, so I decided to bite the bullet and start college. I started at Cape Fear Community College and earned my A.A., then transferred to UNCW as a junior and earned my B.A., on the strength of my college grades and LSAT score, I went straight to law school earning my Juris Doctorate after three years. In my first summer in law School, I interned with Judge Tyson at the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Judge Tyson taught me a lot and I am grateful to him for the practical education he provided. In my second summer, I interned with former district court judge Charles Rice who offered to employ me following graduation. I began working at Rice Law, PLLC, in 2008 and I am ever grateful to Charles for his support and belief in me - he was a tremendous mentor and since his passing, I reflect on his lessons frequently.
In 2012, I married Dara. I met Dara through a mutual friend. Dara is a southern girl born and raised in Fayetteville (Spring Lake actually). She always challenges me and our marriage is one of my greatest decisions. We live in Castle Hayne with our two dogs, a tractor, and a little spot of land.
I have been practicing law for over 15 years. My practice has been focused on Family law but I have also frequently practiced appellate law, zoning and land use law, entertainment law, and general civil litigation. I have even done a couple traffic tickets.
I have served on the New Hanover County Zoning Board of Adjustments, I am a Federalist Society member, I am a family financial mediator certified by the NC Dispute Resolutions Commission, and I still play music on the weekends.