By Pam Blume
Christian Action League
May 29, 2015
GOLDSBORO – Long-time civil servant and former N.C. Democrat Senator John Hosea Kerr III, representing Greene, Wayne and Lenoir counties, died Sunday after a period of declining health. He was 79.
Born in Richmond, VA, Kerr grew up in Warrenton, NC. He was the son of NC Representative and Speaker of the House John Kerr, Jr. and grandson of US Congressman John Kerr, for whom Kerr Lake is named.
According to the obituary from the Seymour Funeral Home (Goldsboro) website, Kerr attended NC public schools and graduated in 1958 from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and served as president of the Junior Class and of the Order of the Grail.
In 1961, he received his law degree, with honors, from the UNC School of Law where he was a member of the Law Review and Order of the Coif.
Kerr worked as a lawyer in Goldsboro for 50 years at the firm now known as Warren, Kerr, Walston, Taylor & Smith L.L.P. He was active and held leadership positions in the Wayne County, Eighth Judicial District and North Carolina Bar Associations.
Kerr was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1986 as a democrat representing Greene, Lenoir and Wayne counties, where he served three terms. In 1992 he was elected to the state Senate where he served as a member of the Appropriations, Commerce and Judiciary Committees, and as the Co-Chair of the Finance Committee and Revenue Laws Study Committee. After eight terms in the state Senate, Kerr decided not to seek re-election in 2008.
His obituary states that “During his 22 years of service in the General Assembly, John made a considerable impact on fiscal policy and economic development, and he played a key role in expanding and improving infrastructure across the State, including water, sewer, natural gas and roads. He also used his influence in the General Assembly to support many of the institutions which have contributed to the greatness of the State and the lives of its people, including the University of North Carolina System, the North Carolina Community College System, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.”
“Throughout his professional and political life, John devoted his talent, energy and influence to support the people and communities of Eastern North Carolina. He fought to meet the infrastructure needs of the region and was a champion of the public schools and community colleges, the agri-business community, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the state’s other military installations, and the volunteer fire and rescue associations. John’s leadership was instrumental in the creation of Global TransPark, the East Carolina University Dental School, the University of North Carolina Cancer Center, and the construction of the new Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.”
“John was a leader in his community as an active member of Madison Avenue Baptist Church, Jaycees, Rotary Club, Golden K., and the Elks Club. John served on numerous boards including the Wayne County Public Library, Wayne Memorial Building, Mount Olive College Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County and the local boards of North Carolina National Bank, Southern National Bank and Branch Banking and Trust. Among many honors, in 2008 John received the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, which ‘recognizes noteworthy and extraordinary leadership in communities across the United States.’”
His obituary says that Kerr desired to live his life according to Luke 12:48 (KJV), “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,” and was motivated by “… a profound love of people and his desire to use his many gifts to make a positive difference in their lives.”
He is survived by his wife, Sandra, his sons John Hosea Kerr, IV (Ashley) and James Yancey Kerr, II (Frances), four grandchildren, a sister-in-law and several nieces and their families.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said, “Kerr was a friend. Whenever the Christian Action League had a concern, he was always careful to listen to what we had to say. It was too much of a compliment, but he once referred to me as one of the most astute persons at the General Assembly. I remember affectionately the way he tried to stop that terrible “Pop the Cap” alcohol legislation and his detractors made fun of him. But he didn’t mind, he knew it was the right thing to do. He rightly argued that one craft beer was like drinking straight vodka. Among the many things he did for North Carolina, I will remember him for his stalwart opposition to that legislation.”
A memorial service will be held at Madison Avenue Baptist Church, Goldsboro, on Monday, June 1, 2015 at 2 p.m. For details, see http://www.seymourfuneralhome.com/sitemaker/sites/SEYMOU1/obit.cgi?user=62954747_JKerrIII