Mr. Jerry R. Kerr, 88, of Lebanon, passed away Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, at Witham Hospital in Lebanon. He was born Oct. 5, 1934, in Bloomington, a son of the late Joseph Edward and Ruth (Harper) Kerr.
He attended a one-room schoolhouse at Crossroads School and then Bloomington High School, where he was a track, cross country, and wrestling athlete. He held the state record in the one mile run with his best time of 4:24, a time that would win many races today.
After sports, Jerry would hitchhike home 5 ½ miles every day. Also during his high school years, he helped support his family by working on the family farm and as a carpenter with his father. The story goes, in 1952, Jerry and his friend were baling hay in the hot sun and decided to throw down their pitchforks and drive in Jerry’s 1931 Chevy Coupe to enroll in Purdue University.
At Purdue, he was a member of Farmhouse Fraternity. He graduated in 1956 with a BS degree in Civil Engineering. After college, Jerry was called to the Army to work with the Corps of Engineers.
Jerry’s first job out of college was working for Indianapolis Power & Light. In 1958 he went on a blind date to an Indians game with Josephine Astesano, and his life changed forever.
Jerry & Josephine were married on July 17, 1959, and lived in Indianapolis.
In 1961 Jerry was recalled to the Army during the Berlin Crisis, where he served as Captain in the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, NC.
In 1963 the family returned to Indiana and, Jerry began an illustrious career with Huber, Hunt & Nichols, Inc. working on many iconic buildings all over the country including Bank One Center (Salesforce), Merrill Lynch headquarters, Squibb Pharmaceuticals, and The Superdome, in Louisiana, to mention a few. Jerry was one of the founders of Top Notch, a construction labor and management association. Jerry served as President of AGCI – Association of General Contractors of Indiana from 1993-94. He chaired the National Health & Safety Fund and was on the Board of Indianapolis Construction Alliance, and Bowen Engineering, Inc.
He retired from Hunt in 1997 and began working as a consultant for Kite Realty and was instrumental in building the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
In 1999 he worked with the Purdue Engineering and Management faculty to develop a Construction Management business course that he taught for 10 years. Also that year, he was awarded the Purdue School of Engineering Alumni Achievement Award. Jerry and his brother Mike are honored on two overhead cranes for their contributions to the Civil Engineering Research Laboratory.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Ruth; brother, Michael D. Kerr; and brother-in-law, James Hicks.
Survivors include his loving wife of 63 years, Josephine; daughters, Kathy Kerr Wylam (Bruce) of Carmel, Kelli Ellison (Rick) of Carmel, and Mary Jo Schaum (Jason) of North Aurora, IL; son, Michael R. Kerr (Mandy) of Zionsville; grandchildren, Christopher Ellison of Fishers, Kevin Ellison of Knoxville, TN, Jeremy Ellison of New York, NY, Jeffrey Ellison of Los Angeles, CA, Caroline Kerr of Zionsville, Joseph Kerr of Daytona Beach, FL, Nathan Schaum, and Sophia Schaum, North Aurora, IL; sister, Donna Hicks of South Bend; and several nephews and nieces, which he cherished.
Jerry and Josephine enjoyed living in Lebanon, IN for over 50 years. He was an avid golfer and a member of Ulen CC and served as past President. He always enjoyed the 4th of July festivities, and the Kerr family hosted a party at their home every year. Jerry was well known for his homemade ice cream.
Jerry and Jo enjoyed spending time at their home in Kissimmee, FL.
He loved to go on family trips, including a 1975 trip out west in a recreational vehicle with 7 family members. Oh, the stories we could tell! Family trips with all 17 members of his family highlighted his retirement years. He also enjoyed traveling around the world with his wife and friends.
He loved attending his children’s and grandchildren’s events. He was a proud black and gold Purdue fan and has been a season ticket holder for the Indianapolis Colts since 1984.
Kerr was a self-made man. He was born a leader, who loved to laugh and was known for his loyalty. From helping to support his family as a teen to being a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend… Jerry Kerr was One-of-a-Kind.
Friends and Family may pay their respects on Friday, November 4th during visitation from 1-5pm at Strawmyer & Drury Mortuary, 2400 N. Lebanon Street, Lebanon, IN. A Celebration of Life reception will be held immediately following at Ulen Country Club.
A Memorial Service will take place on Saturday, November 5th at 11am at Strawmyer & Drury Mortuary followed by interment at Oak Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, you may make donations to Jerry R. Kerr Memorial Scholarship at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, payable to the Purdue Foundation, Box 772401, Detroit, MI 48277.