Rowland Kerr

Obituary
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Rowland Kerr

Age 77, passed away at his home on March 22, 2013. "Roly" was born in Long Beach on June 25, 1935 to Elsie McIntyre Kerr and local merchant and grocer F.J. "Bud" Kerr. He grew up in the Lakewood Village area and lived there most of his life. He graduated from Wilson High in 1953 where he served as president of the Thespian Club. He graduated from Cal State, Long Beach in 1968 with an English Degree.
The story of KNOB as a jazz source began with Roly. KNOB was the world's first all-jazz radio station broadcasting from at their transmitter site atop Signal Hill. At the age of eighteen, he served as the very first jazz DJ for KNOB in 1954, earning $50 a week. He later served as a radio announcer at KIST radio station in Santa Barbara.
He served in Hawaii as a Public Information Specialist in the Army. He later got promoted to entertaining the troops in the Special Services unit at Schofield Barracks with radio broadcasts and live theatre. He was present on base when the air sirens went off signaling Hawaii's admission into the union.
On his return to Long Beach he worked in the electronics industry and soon returned to college. He was very active in student government at CSULB as the Cultural Arts Commissioner and stayed on for twenty-five years in the Student Affairs/Student Development area, mentoring and working with hundreds of students in a wide range of activities, from political events to guest lecturers to concerts and festivals.
Roly eventually became CSULB Associate Dean of Student Affairs for College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He was the long-time advisor to the Gay and Lesbian Student Union. In the late 1970s until about 1982, he produced the 49er Banjo, Fiddle and Guitar Festival, which he described as "a niche thing," with acts like Emmy Lou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Goodman, Jimmy Buffett, Lester Flatt and the Mark Savoy Cajun Band.
After he retired from CSULB in 1995, he returned to first passion: acting. He worked in a number of films, commercials, and tv shows, including a guest starring role on One Live To Live. He has also appeared in theatres in Los Angeles, Hollywood and Orange County. Roly was familiar to most of the Long Beach Playhouse's patrons. He worked extensively on both the Playhouse stages for over 30 years. He also served two terms as President of the Playhouse Board of Directors. In 2000, Roly was awarded by his playhouse peers a Ethel Case Award. He was pleased to carry on a tradition at the Playhouse as his grandfather acted in and directed several shows for the Players in 1929 and the early '30s.
He is remembered by his friends as a sweet, kind, gentleman, an impeccable dresser and a lover of the arts. He is survived by his family, Ruben Macias, Diane McIntyre, Bob and Nelsie Ann Powell, Debra Posey, and Sharon Miller, as well as his cats, Minny and Freddy. Rest in peace. You will be forever loved and a star in all the hearts you have touched. A memorial service will be held honoring Roly on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 2 pm at Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 East Anaheim Street, Long Beach. Please sign the guest book at www.presstelegram.com/obituaries.
Published in the Long Beach Press-Telegram on Apr. 6, 2013
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