Barbara Kerr was an amazing woman.
She was a devout Christian, an extraordinary musician and a devoted wife for 65 years. Her quick wit was as razor sharp as her mind for most of her 94 years, and she had a tenacity about every aspect of her life that rivaled those decades younger.
Kerr wasn’t a public servant in the way most people think of public servants, yet she was community-minded in every sense of the word, and she was extremely loyal to those she called friends, a group that was as wide as it was long.
In the early years of her life she and husband Burke, a minister, served churches from Georgia to Virginia, Kentucky to Texas and, of course, North Carolina. They were partners in faith, service and life.
Kerr lived out her faith in every aspect of her life. She didn’t just profess to be a Christian; her actions spoke volumes and the way she carried herself through every adversity of her life clearly showed that God was in control.
While many might not recognize Kerr’s name, most will recall the times we’ve published stories about her: when she and husband Burke were part of the 76ers band; when she competed in the Senior Mrs. North Carolina pageant; when she began participating — and winning — in the Silver Arts competition; and when she began swimming in the Senior Games, competing at the regional, state and national levels and bringing home silver and gold medals.
Most did not know she was legally blind.
Clearly Kerr never let her physical challenges get in the way; she lived life to the fullest, never allowing her vision problems to stand in the way of what she wanted or needed to do. Whether it was playing the piano or organ, crossing the street to visit the newspaper office, jumping into a swimming pool and competing for a medal or pulling out her gigantic magnifying glass to try and read, she did everything with gusto and was always thankful for everything she was able to do.
You never heard her complain about what she didn’t have; it was always shouts of joy for what God had blessed her with each day.
That is what made Kerr amazing, and it is what makes her the kind of example others should follow even today, days after her passing.
Rather than seeing the glass half empty we should, like Kerr always did, see the blessings in life. Though her eyes were dimmer than most, she saw far more clearly than many of us ever do, understanding that priorities shouldn’t be focused on past suffering or present day ills but rather on the blessings bestowed upon us coupled with what we can do to make life better for others and ourselves.
In everything she did, Kerr was a testament to a life well lived; we were blessed that she shared a small portion of herself with us.