John Kerr

Obituary of John Kerr

Obituary for John Hoare Kerr During the last two decades of his life John Hoare Kerr, a native Newporter, lived a life of quiet contemplation as a Roman Catholic oblate of the Order of Saint Benedict. The house he lived in, originally owned by his parents, Brig. Gen. Francis Rusher Kerr and Marion MacDonald Kerr, named "Derrydown" was his hermitage. There he devoted the final years of his life to prayer, meditation and painting. But before all this, Mr. Kerr, called John by one and all, had lived a very active and worldly life. He was born in the Newport Hospital on April 19, 1931. He maintained a lifelong connection to the Portsmouth Abbey as first a student and in the final years of his life as an oblate. He graduated from Yale University in 1955. Afterwards he served as a reporter and broadcaster for the United States Armed Forces Network where he earned a commendation for outstanding military service. From 1957 to 1958 Mr. Kerr worked in the Overseas Program for First National City Bank (now Citibank) in New York City. From 1959 to 1961 he was Executive Assistant and Acting Deputy with the U.S Committee for UNICEF as a liaison to the White House and Congress. Following this, Mr. Kerr worked for the Sleepy Hollow Restorations, a Rockefeller endowed collection of historic house museums (1961-1963) and as a special consultant to the Smithsonian's National Collection of Fine Arts (N.C.F.A).His vast knowledge and expertise in the arts led him to the Huntington Galleries of West Virginia where he was the Director from 1964 to 1967. In 1967 he was appointed Consul to the United States Foreign Service by President Lyndon Johnson and assigned to Madras, India, as the Cultural Affairs Officer. There he fostered cultural exchange concerning the arts, performing and visual as well as education and cultural matters between our Nation and India. Subsequent to his diplomatic posting, Mr. Kerr became the Director of Education for the National Endowment for Arts (NEA) creating such programs as the Artists in Schools Program, Mr. Kerr worked at the NEA until his retirement in 1985. He died on May 10, 2007 from heart disease. He is survived by his three sons, Alan, Colin and Ian and his daughter-in-law (wife of Ian), Tomoko. Memorial donations may be made to the Portsmouth Abbey, Cory's Lane, Portsmouth, RI 02871 or to the St. Clare Home, 309 Spring St. Newport, RI 02840 Mr. Kerr's Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at the Portsmouth Abbey Chapel, Cory's Lane, Portsmouth, R.I. at 10:00am. Burial will take place at the Portsmouth Abbey Cemetery. Funeral arrangements by the O'Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring St., Newport, RI 02840.
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