Leon Kerry

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Leon Herbert Kerry HAMPTON - Leon Herbert Kerry, affectionately called "Doc" Kerry, was born Feb. 22, 1915 in Orange, Texas, the eldest son of the late Paul and Isabel Kerry. He transitioned to his heavenly home April 19, 2011, surrounded by family and friends. Leon H. Kerry was 96 years old. Leon lettered in athletics at Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa, Okla.) in football, basketball and track. Upon graduating from high school, he continued his athletic career at Hampton Institute where he was named All-CIAA and leading scorer for the Hampton Pirate Basketball 1936 Championship team. Leon also made All-CIAA in track and field. While he loved all sports, his favorite activity was swimming. Leon was an avid swimmer until the age of 90. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in business administration, Leon was drafted into the U.S. Army. He spent three years in the Army where he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant. Leon served in the South Pacific and was awarded numerous decorations during his military career. He separated from the Army in 1946. From 1946 to 1951, he worked in the business office at Hampton Institute. He received a M.B.A. degree from the Graduate School of Business Administration New York University. In 1952, Leon accepted the position of chief financial officer of the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College, which became Norfolk State University. The school had an enrollment of approximately 500 students, a small budget and a physical plant that consisted of the old DePaul Hospital on Boush and Church Streets in Norfolk. During his tenure at Norfolk State University, he served as the chairman of the athletic committee. Through his leadership, the athletic director, coaches and members of the committee were successful in upgrading the program and obtaining membership in the CIAA. Norfolk State University received national recognition in track and field - winning national relay events, producing an Olympic gold medalist and basketball program that consistently reached the NAIA post season tournament. Leon also worked closely with the athletic director to place students in summer jobs with local businesses. He was appointed vice president for fiscal affairs by the Dr. Harrison B. Wilson and served in that capacity from 1975 until his retirement in 1980. Leon's lasting legacy remains evident through the thousands of students whose lives were touched by his commitment to their higher education. Leon was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, the alumni association of Hampton University, New York University, and the boosters of Norfolk State and Hampton University. He was also a member of the Norfolk State University Hall of Fame and the CIAA Hall of Fame. Other memberships included State Senior Business Officer and National Associations of Colleges and Universities Business Officers, and a member of the Masons and the NAACP. He also served as a trustee of Bethel AME Church. Leon was married to the late Willie Mae Cowan Kerry of Chattanooga, Tenn., and was predeceased by his brother, Roland Kerry. Left to cherish his memory are twins, Leon (Angela) Kerry and Mignon (Vernon) Uzzell; four grandchildren, Lisa Kerry, Tika Uzzell - Smith, LeAnne Kerry, Vernon Uzzell Jr.; three great- grandchildren, Daniel Moore, Madison Cuffee, Aniya Smith; one niece and nephew, Karen Lehman and Paul Kerry; two great-nephews Christopher (Kim) and Jonathan; one great-great-nephew, Eli; cousins, Lorenia Ward, Sedonia Guillory, David (Janet) White and son Mathew; special family friends, caregivers Amelia, Catrina, Ida, Mabel, Tracey; and a host of cousins and friends. Viewing will be held Monday, April 25, from noon to 6 p.m. at Ronald C. Perkins Funeral Home, 251 W. Queen St., Hampton. A funeral will be held Tuesday, April 26, at noon at Bethel AME Church, 94 Lincoln St., Hampton. Interment will follow in Hampton Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the CIAA Scholarship fund: CIAA, c/o CIAA Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 7349 Hampton, VA 23366 Arrangements by Ronald C. Perkins Funeral Home, Hampton.

Published in The Virginian Pilot on Apr. 24, 2011
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