Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Friend Says Goodbye to Don Kernodle

by Peggy Lathan
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

I was shocked to hear about Don Kernodle's passing. He was one of my best friends and had been for almost 50 years. I have so many good memories of Don, most of them including Johnny Weaver.

I first began going to the matches with my mother and grandmother in Greenville, SC in 1968. Johnny Weaver was one of the first wrestlers I met, talking to him as he stood by the back wall watching matches.  Back then, the wrestlers would stand in the back and sign autographs and pose for pictures. Johnny was my favorite and while chatting, I told him about our three generations attending the matches. 

DON KERNODLE (circa 1976)
One night in 1973, Johnny told Don about the three of us, and Don wanted to meet my family. He was fascinated about three generations all attending the matches together, the same seats, every week. That was the beginning of a long-time friendship. 

Don hit it off with my grandmother. Nannie loved Don, she would cheer for him and was his biggest supporter. Don would make her so happy. I remember several times, the bad guy would throw Don out on the floor and he would land right at my grandmother's feet. I'm sure Don would plan it that way. He would look up from the floor and plead, "Help me Nannie, help me! Don't let them hurt me, Nannie." She would reach down and pat him on the back or the shoulder, and as the bad guy approached she would ball up that fist and threaten to whip them if they got near Don. "Oh, thank, you Nannie, thank you," Don would say.

Don and I had many good times together. We went to the beach several times with Johnny Weaver, Don's brother Wally, and other friends. We attended races, had cookouts at Johnny's house, attended matches and just enjoyed being together doing fun things. I'm really going to miss those times and all of the phone calls and cards. 

Rest in Peace, my friend.  I will always love you.  'Till we meet again. 

  - Peggy Lathan             

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For more on my Nannie, see:
Every Wrestling Crowd Had One: The Little Old Lady Ringside

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Other posts by Peggy Lathan:

Ric Flair Shuts Down The Pantry
Ole Anderson: Good Sammaritan
Gene Anderson was No Help at All!
Ronnie Garvin: AirPlanes and Rear View Mirrors

Meeting Baby Doll