An undated handout photo of Roy Kern Sr.

An undated handout photo of Roy Kern Sr. Credit: Handout

Roy Kern Sr. helped pioneer today's medical billing systems while finding time to chair a town zoning board and start a bank. The Kings Park resident died Monday. He was 78.

Though Kern is remembered as a forward-thinker who kept up with the latest technology, his family remembers him for having a soft heart.

When a Sayville woman was arrested for leaving her baby home alone, daughter Penelope Napolitano said, he was moved by her tale of turning to prostitution to feed her child. He gave her a job and had Napolitano, who lives in Patchogue, drive her to work daily. "I have a thousand and one stories like this," she said. "He always saw the good in people and the potential."

Kern was 8 when his father abandoned the family in Brooklyn and his mother scrubbed floors to feed five children.

He got a business management degree at New York University in 1964 and worked as a computer programmer.

In 1973, he set up the first of eight medical billing companies, Innovations In Technology, and his software partnered patient records with accounting at a time when the medical field was losing money because of disorganized billing of insurers.

Kern loved job-related technology, such as the early cellphone, a 5-pounder, his longtime secretary Loretta Luning said. Way before "Can you hear me now?" became a catchphrase, workers teased him with the line when he called on it. He treated his employees like family.

"He always wanted to be part of what was going, and he wanted to make sure none of his clients waited for an answer," Luning said.

Kern thought of Smithtown as his backyard and chaired its zoning board for about 40 years, starting in 1964. "He was very, very straightforward . . . and ran that board in a very professional manner," said Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio.

In 1990, Kern co-founded the Long Island Commercial Bank in Islandia, which was open 9 to 5 because he said those were the "business hours" for bank clients. The bank became New York Commercial Bank in 2005.

In addition to his daughter Penelope, Kern is survived by his wife, Dolores; sons Roy Jr. and Mark of Kings Park, and Rodney of Commack; daughter Stephanie Leatherman of Smithtown; and 13 grandchildren.

Visiting is 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Clayton Funeral Home in Kings Park. A service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, followed by burial at Pinelawn Memorial Gardens in Pinelawn.

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