Roger Alvah Karn Profile Photo
1940 Roger Alvah Karn 2023

Roger Alvah Karn

February 21, 1940 — May 2, 2023


Roger Alvah Karn, 83, passed away unexpectedly on May 2, 2023, in E. Syracuse. Roger was born on February 21, 1940, to Ernest Karn, Sr. and Mildred “June” Karn in West Groton and was one of six children. He graduated Genoa Central School in 1958, enlisted in the US Army and completed a thirteen month tour in Korea. Roger met the love of his life, Barbara [Kappler] Karn in 1961. They were married in Utica, NY, on August 18, 1962. In 1967, Roger and Barb welcomed their first son, Daniel “Danny” Karn. Roger was chosen as one of eight Honor Guards for John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration in 1960 and was presented with his Dress Blues by John F. Kennedy himself. This is a memory that Roger cherished and reflected on throughout his life.  In 1970, Roger attended the Army Aviation School: Warrant Officer Course/Rotary Wing Aviator School in Mineral Wells, Texas and Fort Rucker, Alabama. Following Aviation School, he completed AH1G Cobra Training in Savannah, Ga. During his tenure in the US Army, he would become an Instrument-Rated, Fixed Wing Pilot and Instrument Examiner and served one tour in Vietnam 1970-71.  Roger, Barb and Danny resided in Germany for three years beginning in 1971. In 1972, Barb and Roger welcomed another son, Roger. While in Germany, Roger flew helicopters, diligently guarding the border between East and West Germany. He continued to serve as a pilot in the US Army until he was honorably discharged in 1977. He then piloted for the US Government from 1977-1981 during which time he was tasked with test-piloting experimental flight systems and weapons. Following a successful career as a pilot, Roger worked as a mechanic in Genoa, at Greek Peak in Virgil and at Cazenovia Equipment. During this time, Roger was a hardworking Beefalo and Pig Farmer. He went to work for the Town of Cortlandville, from where he retired in 2002. It was soon after retirement that Roger’s love of antique tractors became much more than a hobby and he would eventually serve as the President of the Tractor of Yesteryear Club (T.O.Y.S.) and was instrumental in developing the agricultural exhibit for the CNY Living History Museum. 

Roger was predeceased by both parents, his brother, Ernest “Stub” Karn Jr., and his sister-in-law, Priscilla [Bruce] Karn, brothers in law, Vance Wood and John Hoffman. He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Barb Karn, two devoted sons, Dan [Shana] and Roger [Melissa] Karn. He will be missed by his grandchildren, Teall Karn, Melanie Pitcher, Miranda VanDonsel; two great grandsons, Cooper, who shares Grandpa’s passion for tractors, and Danny VanDonsel; two step-grandchildren, Carter and Cameron Martin; and three sisters, to whom he was very close, Catherine Wood, Sharon [Gary] Napieracz and Penny Hoffman; his brother, Bruce [Pam] Karn; sister-in-law, Roberta Karn, and several nieces and nephews. The hundreds of friends and acquaintances he developed as a result of his passion for antique tractors will miss his enthusiasm and his vast knowledge. His close friends and family truly enjoyed and will miss most his incredible stories, his booming voice and his surprising sense of humor. His granddaughters and great grandsons will miss the larger-than-life man who truly was nothing more than their own personal teddy bear—always eager to make them smile and giggle. He was loved beyond measure.

Funeral Services will be held at 12:00 Noon on Wednesday, May 10, 2023  at the Shurtleff Funeral Home, 103 Lincoln Avenue, Groton.  Friends may call at the funeral home from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM, preceding the service. Interment with military honors will follow at Baker Cemetery in Moravia.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made specifically to the agricultural exhibit of the CNY Living History Museum, 4386 US-Route 11, Cortland NY 13045.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Roger Alvah Karn, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Shurtleff Funeral Home- Groton

103 Lincoln Ave, Groton, NY 13073

Funeral Services will be held at 12:00 Noon on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at the Shurtleff Funeral Home, 103 Lincoln Avenue, Groton. Friends may call at the funeral home from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM, preceding the service. Interment with military honors will follow at Baker Cemetery in Moravia.

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