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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Joseph Minott Kerr

June 24, 1929 - November 26, 2008

Joseph Minott Kerr, 79, died peacefully in his sleep at his lakeside home in Ferrisburgh early Wednesday morning, November 26, 2008, after a 10-year struggle with Parkinson's disease.

Born in New York City on June 24, 1929, to John and Margaret Minott Kerr, Joe was raised in St. James, Long Island, NY, and attended Emerson School and Exeter Academy. He received a degree in business administration from Northwestern University. During the Korean War he taught Arctic survival to aircraft pilots and crews in California's High Sierras for the U.S. Air Force.

Joe's diverse professional career ranged from dealing with longshoremen in labor negotiations for General Foods in Hoboken, NJ, to working as a consultant with NYC's Booze Allen Hamilton until 1965.

In the mid 1960s Joe, his wife Mary and three sons moved from Mendham, NJ, to Fayston, VT, seeking a rural lifestyle closer to nature.

His love of and work in Vermont were highlighted by three years in the Governor Deane C. Davis administration. As the state's secretary of Civil and Military Affairs, he assisted in writing landmark legislation that resulted in helping to preserve Vermont in its highly pristine state. Among these efforts were Act 250, a billboard ban and a bottle deposit requirement. He also served as commissioner of Employment Security during Governor Richard Snelling's administration before returning to the private sector in 1980.
Between administrations he organized the original Vermont Community Foundation under the auspices of the McConnell/Clark Foundation that also took him to Quebec's Eastern Shore to work with local native tribes.
A kind, peaceful man, Joe was devoted to his family, friends and community to whom he served in many capacities. He retired from B.F. Goodrich of Vergennes in 1998 after 18 years as an executive with the human resources and training departments. For Joe his work as an active liaison with local community projects for Goodrich were some of his most memorable years. He served as Addison County United Way president and chairman of the Bixby Library Board of Trustees. He was particularly proud of working with architect Martin Tierney to restore the Bixby building including the magnificent stained-glass atrium. He also served on the Elderly Services Board in Middlebury.

Joe's love of the out-of-doors took him and Mary all over the world from their home on Lake Champlain to Washington state's San Juans, the Chesapeake Bay, Virgin Islands and the coast of Turkey for sailing; and to ski in the French, Italian, Austrian and Swiss Alps. Joe, a member of the Amateur Ski Club of New York, was an original investor in Fayston's Glen Ellen. He served as a board member during the fledgling ski area's growing pains from 1962-1967.

He was active in the Mad River Valley's Boy Scouts, an organizer of the Valley Junior Racing Club and Ski Education Foundation and a founder of St. Dunstan's Episcopal Mission in Waitsfield. After moving to their Ferrisburgh home in 1990, Joe served on the Mission Committee of the Vergennes Congregational Church and as a volunteer for the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

He is survived by his wife Mary, whom he married on April 2, 1955, in East Hampton Long Island, NY. He is also survived by his son J Minott Kerr of Portland, OR; son Gibson B. Kerr and his wife Diane of Springfield, VA, granddaughter Alyssa; and granddaughter Kirstin and her husband Seamus O'Connor of Brooklyn, NY; son Geoffrey G. Kerr and three grandsons Maxwell, Gavin and Peter of Palo Alto, CA. He is also survived by his brother John Kerr of Hightstown, NJ, cousin William Morriss of Yuma, AZ, and numerous nieces and nephews. A sister Elizabeth predeceased him in July 2008.

A memorial service is planned for January. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Bixby Library, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, the Vergennes Food Shelf or Heat Assistance Program.  


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