OBITUARY
JAMES WILSON KERR, III

James Wilson Kerr, 111, 87, of Easton, Maryland, died on March 18, 2008 from complications of strokes and vascular dementia. At the time of his death, he was a resident of the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in Charlotte Hall. Maryland. Mr. Kerr was a retired Army Lieu­tenant Colonel and nuclear physicist.

Mr. Kerr was born to James Wilson Kerr and Laura Virginia Wright of Baltimore. Following the death of his father in 1923, Mr. Kerr’s mother, accompanied by her son, fol­lowed her new husband, Rev. Bruce A. Cum­ming, to a Presbyterian mission in Mok Po, Korea (now South Korea. Mr. Kerr was edu­cated via the Calvert Course, short stints in Baltimore and Florida schools, and, from age twelve, at the Pyongyang Foreign School graduating in 1938. Following a trip home around the world, he entered Davidson College in North Carolina, graduating with honors in Chemistry in 1942. He entered the United States Army as a newly commissioned officer in 1942, serving with the 159th Infantry in the Aleutians during World War II. Following the war, the Army sent him to New York Univer­sity to complete graduate degrees in the then newly emerging science of nuclear physics. He received a Masters of Science Degree in Nu­clear Physics from New York University in 1948 and began work on a doctorate. His edu­cation was interrupted by the Korean Conflict during which he initially served with the Eighth Army in Korea, during which his Korean Ian­uage skills were much in demand. He later served in combat in Korea with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment (“The Cottonbalers”).

Following the Korean Conflict, Mr. Kerr was posted to New Mexico where the United States’ post WWII nuclear weapons and electronics research and development activities were based. He later served as special weapons liaison to the French 1st Army Corps in Freiburg, Germany. Returning to the U. S., he served at Fortress Monroe and in the Pentagon, retiring in 1964, after a 22-year career in the Army. Mr. Kerr was a highly decorated veteran, receiving in ad­dition to the Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars, numerous decorations, medals, badges, and other recognition of his service by both the U. S. Army and the Republic of Korea Army.

Mr. Kerr segued from the Army into the newly formed Civil Defense Agency, FEMA’s predecessor agency, retiring from FEMA in 1985 as Senior Policy Advisor, National Prepar­edness Directorate. During his tenure with FEMA, he oversaw technical and social re­search on natural and manmade disasters, such the nuclear winter, fire, volcanic eruptions, hur­ricanes, and hazardous materials.

He worked extensively in fire research and administration, both in his FEMA capacity, and in retirement. He served as Chair and Member of the Fairfax County, VA Fire Com­mission, consultant to the Chief, Orange County, Florida Fire Dept., and served on numerous fire, hazardous materials, and disaster management committees of the Na­tional Fire Prevention Association, the National Research Council and other organizations. In 1995, he served as a member of a People to People delegation to South Africa, meeting with Nelson Mandela and his staff regarding the de­velopment of a national standards institute.

He was a prolific author, with numerous publications on military, scientific, and phila­telic topics. He was an international authority on Asian, Greenland, Channel Islands, and Pit­cairn Island stamps, and in retirement he turned this avocation into a job with the philatelic firm of Michael Rogers, Inc. of Winter Park, Flor ida. He was an accomplished singer and actor performing in theatrical and operatic produc tions in Washington, D.C., Orlando, FL, Troy Alabama, and Easton. He enjoyed hiking anc climbing. He was a Fellow of the Exploren Club; a member of the American Philatelic Association, American Numismatic Association, St. Andrews Society of the Eastern Shore, Sons of the American Revolution, Sharon Lodge No. 182, A.F. & AM., Reisterstown Maryland; and numerous military and scien tific organizations.

In retirement, Mr. Kerr fulfilled a long desired goal, receiving his Ph.D. in Public Ad­ministration from Warren National University (formerly Kennedy-Western)..

His marriages to the late Mary Thomas Montgomery Kerr and the late June Walkc’ Lehman Kerr ended in divorce. He is survivec by his wife, Janice Bain-Kerr, of Easton; twc children: Andrew Kerr (Katherine) of Tucson. and April Kerr-Miller of Bel Air, Maryland, five grandchildren: Allison Almason (Steve). James Wilson Kerr V (Jennifer); Graham Kerr, Andrew Kerr, Jr., and Diana Kerr; two great-grandchildren: Joseph Mitchell Almason and James W. Kerr VI. He is also survived by his sister, L.Virginia Tester of Jacksonville Beach. Florida and his step-son, Alexander Bain, oi Norman, Oklahoma. He was preceded in death by his parents, stepfather, a sister, Mary Bruce Jakway, his daughter , “Katie” Kerr Wood, his son, James Wilson Kerr IV, and a grandson: Montgomery Miller-Kerr.

A private interment service, in London Park Cemetery, Baltimore, was held on March 25, 2008. Donations in his memory may be made to the University of Delaware Disaster Research Center, 166 Graham Hall, Newark, DE, 19716 or the E. H. Little Library, David­son College, Box 1200, Davidson, NC 28035-7200.

From Star Democrat of March 23, 2008

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