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Robert S. Kerr, Jr.

Oklahoman Published: February 1, 2004
Obituaries/Death Notices

KERR Robert S. Kerr, Jr., known to Oklahomans as "Mister Water," died January 28, 2004. Born October 25, 1926, in Ada, Oklahoma, Bob was the oldest of four children born to Robert S. Kerr and Grayce Breene Kerr. Personal philanthropy and a career of service to his state and its people are his legacies. Bob was a graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma School of Law. He served his country in the Merchant Marine Cadet Corps and as an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery in Japan and Korea. Known throughout the state as "Mister Water," Bob, as president of The Water Development Foundation of Oklahoma, campaigned for the Central Oklahoma Project, a plan that originally envisioned navigation up the Deep Fork River as well as fresh water for the growing central Oklahoma counties. Arcadia Lake and McGee Creek Reservoir, key elements of the plan, were built and are supplying municipal and industrial water for Edmond and the Oklahoma City area today. As President of Oklahoma Water, Inc., Bob pressed for the development of a statewide water development plan. Phase I of the plan, covering the state's southern 33 counties, was completed in 1975, and Phase II was released in 1980. As a trustee of The Kerr Foundation, Inc. since its inception in 1963 and as its CEO and President, Bob was responsible for more than $27 million in grants for innovative projects in education, health, cultural activities, human services and the arts. His list of civic, state and national affiliations and offices is long and impressive: Boards of Trustees, Oklahoma City University, University of Oklahoma Foundation, University of Oklahoma Board of Visitors and Oklahoma United Methodist Church Foundation; Board of Directors, Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce; member, the National Academy of Public Administration; director, The Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget; Advisory Board Member, the Salvation Army; member, The Committee of 100; member, the President's Air Quality Advisory Board; Advisory Board, Oklahoma Community Food Bank and the National Trust for Public Lands. Bob's support for education over the years has meant both personal and foundation philanthropy for numerous Oklahoma schools and colleges. His support for cultural activities and the arts can be seen at the Oklahoma City Art Museum, the Omniplex, Red Earth and the Lyric Theatre. Bob's many honors include the Oklahoma City University Distinguished Service Award, election to the New Mexico Military Institute Hall of Fame and recognition as an Oklahoma Living Treasure for Tomorrow. In November, 2003, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. His business affiliations included serving as an officer or board member of the Kerr-McGee Corporation; OG&E; Fidelity Bank, Oklahoma City; Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust Company, Tulsa; and as president of Kerr Aviation Services. As an attorney, Bob was a senior partner of the firm of Kerr, Irvine, Rhodes and Ables. He was a member of the American, Oklahoma and Oklahoma County Bar Associations and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Bob is survived by his wife, Lou, of Oklahoma City and seven children and their spouses: Robert S. Kerr, III, Sharon L. Kerr, Cody T. Kerr and Lisa Pitts, William R. Kerr and Brenda Knott, Laura K. Ogle and husband, David, all of Oklahoma City; Steven S. Kerr and wife, Beth of Edmond; Valerie K. Hart and husband, Dan of Spokane, Washington; 9 grandchildren, Sam Kerr, Kiersten Kerr, Katie Kerr, James Kerr, Wilson Kerr, Mary Grayce Hart, Elizabeth Hart, Taylor Ogle and Jackson Ogle; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He is also survived by two brothers, William G. Kerr of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Breene M. Kerr of Easton, Maryland and a sister, Kay Adair of Oklahoma City. A memorial service will be held at Oklahoma City University Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel on Wednesday, February 4, 2004 at 11:00 a.m. The family suggests memorials be made to either Oklahoma City University, The Robert S. Kerr, Jr. Chair in Environmental Law or to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, The Robert S. Kerr, Jr. Chair in Cancer Research.

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