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Joseph A. Kerrigan

1937 - 2012 Obituary Condolences
(News article) A salesman, business owner, actor, and a candidate for Toledo City Council died Wednesday at Flower Hospital, where he was being treated for a respiratory illness. Joseph A. Kerrigan was 74.

Mr. Kerrigan, a native of Philadelphia, was transferred to Toledo in 1980 by Addressograph-Multigraph Corp. to take over the sales territory.

His wife, Gale, said the company gave him two options for a transfer: Fargo, N.D., or Toledo.

His wife recalled this exchange with his supervisor: "I told my boss I'm not a cowboy nor an Indian. Don't even consider me for Fargo."

In Toledo, he took to the stages of the Toledo Repertoire Theater and the Village Players, acting in more than 25 productions between 1982 and 1990, Mrs. Kerrigan said. His favorite role was Big Jule in 'Guys and Dolls', his wife said.

He was active in Republican politics and in 1991, he ran unsuccessfully for Toledo City Council. He blamed his loss on the late start of his campaign, the lack of experience on his campaign staff, and his lack of name recognition.

He continued to work for the Lucas County GOP behind the scenes as a committeeman and in other tasks, his wife said.

Attorney Tom Tomczak, a Democrat, fellow actor, and longtime friend, said he questioned Mr. Kerrigan's decision to run as a Republican in a city that was dominated by the Democratic Party.

"I said 'Are you out of your mind?'" Mr. Tomczak recalled. "We went tooth and nail on that subject [politics]."

Mr. Tomczak said he also gave Mr. Kerrigan some other political advice in 1993 that turned out to be less astute.

Mr. Tomczak said his friend was asked to manage the campaign of Maggie Thurber, an unknown Republican newcomer from Point Place.

She was challenging longtime Democrat politico James Holzemer, who was seeking election as clerk of Toledo Municipal Court, a post to which he had been appointed.

"I said there's no way she can win," Mr. Tomczak said. "I told him don't even mire yourself in that race."

Ms. Thurber clobbered Mr. Holzemer, a 24-year Lucas County commissioner, in an upset that stunned political observers.

Despite their political differences, the two remained close friends since meeting at a rehearsal for the production of 'Guys and Dolls' at the Toledo Repertoire around 1981, Mr. Tomczak said.

The two were involved together in about a dozen productions at the Rep and Village Players, he said.

Mr. Kerrigan was born on Aug. 5, 1937, in Philadelphia and graduated from Bishop Neumann High School, where he was on the school's rowing team. He won the national rowing champion title in 1959, 1960, and 1961.

He attended Temple University but did not graduate, his wife said.

When his employer downsized the business in 1987, Mr. Kerrigan was faced with the decision of being transferred from Toledo or leaving the firm.

"And I chose to stay in Toledo because it's a beautiful community. I'm only sorry I never raised my family here," he said in a 1991 interview with The Blade.

He had four children from a previous marriage, one of whom preceded him in death.

After leaving Addressograph, he became a salesman for a printing firm and later started his own company that printed restaurant menus.

He also was a hearing-aid consultant.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 31 years, Gail; sons Brian and Joseph; daughter Beth Santilli, and five grandchildren.

Visitation is to be Tuesday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Newcomer Funeral Home, 4752 Heatherdowns Blvd., where a memorial service is to be at 5:30 p.m.

A funeral Mass is to be Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church.

Tributes are suggested to St. Martin de Porres or the Toledo Humane Society.

Contact writer Jim Sielicki at: [email protected] or 419-724-6050.
Published in Toledo Blade on Apr. 23, 2012
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