Dr. Edwin Ernest Kerr (1922 - 2013)

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Dr. Edwin Ernest Kerr, a prominent surgeon from Hanford, California, died on April 19, 2013. He was 90. He was born on December 22, 1922, to Forrest and Hazel Kerr of Hanford, California. From his earliest years, he demonstrated a keen intellect and compassion for people. He was educated in a two-room schoolhouse in Delta View, and entered Hanford High School at the age of 12. Upon graduation in 1939, at the age of 16, he became a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley. Three years later in his junior year, as a Phi Beta Kappa member, he entered the University of California medical school in San Francisco. He received his doctorate of medicine in 1945 at the age of 23. In 1944, while in medical school, he married his high school sweetheart, Doris Richmond. At the end of World War II, he entered the Navy, serving honorably with the US Marine Corps in China, north of Beijing. After the war, he and Doris began their family and he continued with his internship and surgical residency in San Francisco. He completed his education in 1953. Although asked to join the teaching staff at the University of California, he returned to his home town of Hanford, California. In 1953, Dr. Kerr opened a practice and partnered with Dr. Lloyd Christensen soon thereafter. He later joined Dr. Thomas Monfore, Dr. Ying-Chien Lee, and Dr. James Eustermann in what became known as the Kings Surgical Specialists. He also traveled for more than 40 years to Corcoran, California every Tuesday to perform needed surgeries with Dr. Clyde Ball. Following the death of his beloved wife Doris in 1984 after 40 years of marriage, he met and fell in love with Lurette Cora Matychowiak. Wed in 1986, they were happily married for 25 years until her death in 2011. Dr. Kerr retired in 1996 after a distinguished surgical career spanning fifty-one years. Thereafter, he split his time between San Diego and Ensenada, Baja California, where he and his wife spent time reading, traveling, caring for animals, and teaching English to local students. After his wife's death and in declining health, he was relocated to Portland, Oregon by his children where they cared for him until his passing. Dr. Kerr's commitment to excellence was renowned. When his medical school class celebrated its golden anniversary in San Francisco in 1995, he was asked to deliver the valedictory address. In honor of his skill and dedication to his patients, the Hanford Community Medical Center named a wing and then a building after him. Each bears his name. He was also recognized by the American College of Surgeons as a Fellow.
Dr. Kerr is preceded in death by his parents and his older brother Sidney Kerr. He is survived by his sister Ferne Wilson of Visalia, California, his children, Jean Kerr Maurer of Portland, Oregon, William Kerr and his wife Cynthia, also of Portland, James Kerr of Longmont, Colorado, his step-daughter, Eden Matychowiak Westergaard of Fresno, California, two grandchildren, Zach and Laura Maurer, two great-grandchildren, Eva and Owen Maurer, along with several beloved nieces, nephews and step-grandchildren.
He was a scholar, a loving husband and father, a gentleman, and a skilled and compassionate physician. He will be missed by all who knew him.
A memorial service celebrating his life and accomplishments will be held at People's Funeral Chapel, 501 N. Douty St., Hanford, CA on May 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm. Thank you to all of his colleagues, patients, family members, friends, and providers who assisted with his care in his final months of life.
People's Funeral Chapel www.peoplesfuneralchapel.com.
Published in The Hanford Sentinel on May 1, 2013
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