Danny Gallagher recently jogged my memory of a local businessman
from my youth in Genoa. It was Larry Kiernan, also known as Kandy
King Kiernan, who owned a sandwich and confectionery shop
on Genoas Main Street for many years.
Larry was a staunch Democrat, as was his father before
him. He told the story, unconfirmed, about his father asking
for a Democratic ballot in a Genoa election in the 1940s and
they had to have a precinct worker drive to Sycamore to obtain
one so he could cast the only Democratic vote in town.
I remember as a teenager going into his store and seeing
the walls lined with Genoa-Kingston Cogs football, basketball
and baseball team photos. Larry was a big sports fan and a dedicated
backer of local athletics. He even rented an upstairs apartment
to the high school coach Harry Henigan when he came to town.
The other recollection I have of Larry was his failing
eyesight. He was legally blind by the time I knew him and yet
managed to keep his drivers license. Maybe it was his political
connections in the
An unforgettable character in Genoas past is the
late Larry Kiernan
Democratic Party. Somehow he managed to guide his red station
wagon from his South Emmett Street house to the store every day,
coming to a jolting stop when he hit the curb on the side street
near his business.
Over the years, Larry employed a lot of youth in town.
He needed kids to help him in the store, and had exclusive distributorship
for all the newspapers between Chicago and Rockford. Many got
their first work experience delivering papers on a route for
Larry, and his store was the place you went to buy a Sunday paper.
Other people also looked to Larry for employment. He was
not only a precinct committeeman, but at one time was the Democratic
Partys county treasurer, according to Gallagher, who is
also a former Democratic Party chairman in DeKalb County. Larry
had connections all the way to Springfield and was able to dole
out some political patronage jobs when the Democrats were in
Gallagher told how proud Larry was when John F. Kennedy, a fellow
Irish Catholic, became the 35th President of the United States.
These were his best years in politics, and he was very devoted
to the Kennedys, even backing Bobby Kennedy until his untimely
death at the hands of an assassin in 1968.
Another longtime acquaintance of Larrys, Willard Dobbeck,
told me that when Larrys health was failing and he had
to give up the business, he sold the building to the Genoa State
Bank, which tore it down to expand the bank. Larry then ran his
newspaper delivery business out of his home, but his health continued
to deteriorate. He died Sept. 6, 1981, at age 63.
Dobbeck was surprised by a phone call telling him Larry had named
him executor of his estate. Dobbeck said there was little left
beside the house he owned, and Larry had willed it to the St.
Catherine of Genoa Catholic Church.
Larry Kiernan will be remembered as a supporter of youth sports,
as an active member of the Genoa Lions and a part of the early
formation of the Genoa Chamber of Commerce.
Visitors to Genoa Pioneer Day on Sunday (August 26) should check
out a sign in the depot museum stairwell that came from Larrys
store, worded Democratic Republican Headquarters
as it appears that Larry wanted to welcome customers of both