Dennis Lee Kerr, 77, wrote the final lines of his story and closed the book on a life well- lived Monday, November 27th, 2023 in Jacksonville, Ark. An avid reader, Dennis lived a life that mirrored his favorite Louis L’Amour books – chapters of adventure and intrigue, but also a lifetime full of love and commitment to those he held dear.
Born November 19, 1946 in Akron, Ohio to Nelson and Helen (Quirk) Kerr, Dennis’ existence started with a book – the phone book. With this desire to give his middle child a unique name, his father chose a random one out of the white pages – and the name Dennis, or Denny to his family, took root. After leading the Class F Stow Rockets to the Little League baseball championship in 1960, Dennis graduated from Stow High School in 1964, despite his best efforts to spend more time caddying at Firestone Country Club for a few spare bucks. Dennis was proud of being among the top scorers on the State English assessments while missing more of his classes than he attended – proving he was often the smartest guy in the room despite not being there. Despite being only 5’1″ and 78 lbs, Dennis was an important member of the Stow HS football team – the fourth string quarterback on a three-quarterback team.
After high school, Dennis enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Vietnam. This career choice wrote many spectacular chapters for him; hunting from a helicopter in Alaska, driving a car on the sidewalks of the Champs-Élyseé in Paris, and serving in Washington D.C. where he stood in formation at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. When he came home from Vietnam, he bumped into his friend and former teammate, Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Csonka. Once he learned he’d been at war, Larry commented that Dennis “did real work.” Dennis also served in Desert Storm/Desert Shield where he downplayed the risk when writing home and made his kids feel like he was just “working.” Dennis often said that his choice to remain in the military was to give his kids the freedom to follow their dreams and grow up to be happy and prosperous people – which they proceeded to do by becoming nurses, police officers, teachers, soldiers, chefs, parents, and sports executives. He wrote the first few lines and then handed them a pen and let them write their own wonderful stories. They became his greatest legacies.
Dennis retired from the military and pursued a second career in human resources for a manufacturing company in Arkansas.
Dennis met his wife and best friend Carol when she brought her mother to a Bingo game he was calling. Little did he know that the real victory that night would be getting to know her and taking her to see “Airplane” on their first date. After 40 years together, Dennis still used hand signals to sign “I love you” to Carol from across the room.
Dennis was passionate about great storytelling. He was a country music fan to his core and was known as the best singer in the family. When he wasn’t singing one of his grandchildren or great grandchildren to sleep, he was known to have a Carrie Underwood or Reba McIntyre CD in the background or connecting with new musicians on Facebook. Dennis loved discovering and sharing new artists and new authors with anyone and everyone. His love of storytelling spilled over into professional sports. Despite it mostly being tragic comedy, he was a Cleveland sports fan who only got to experience one championship in his life: the 2016 LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers. Dennis and LeBron were born in the same hospital and that Cavs team’s motto, “Whatever It Takes” was Dad’s motto for his kids as they were growing up. It was fitting that the Cavs finally won one for him.
Dennis had a deep love of Christmas traditions – a gorgeous tree every year, thoughtfully choosing the perfect gift, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and a Waffle House ham and cheese omelet every Christmas morning were some of his favorites. Even in his later years, he treated Christmas day with the joy of a child – excited for all the possibilities that lie ahead. Dennis was passionate about the news, politics, and national events. Dennis was a staunch Republican for the first 65 years of his life, despite his mother’s disapproval. He eventually shifted his views to the middle and was vocal about the policies and people he believed could move America forward. Dennis had one request for his obituary, in his own words – “Don’t vote for Donald Trump.”
Dennis is survived by his wife of 40 years, Carol (Dennison) Kerr, his children: Brandy (Joseph) Poole of Conway, Ark., Heather (Gary Don) Moreland of Roland, Ark., Jessica (Charles) McCaa of Jacksonville, Ark., David (Holly) Kerr of Pearl, Miss., Sara (Dustin) Phelan of Ft Riley, Kan., and Dennis (Melissa) Kerr of Jonesboro, Ark. He is also survived by his older brother Larry (Omie) Kerr of Bainbridge Island, Was. and his younger brother, Michael (Seung Hee) Kerr of Bear, Del. Dennis’ book might be closed, but he will live on in the sequels written by his family; passed down to his beloved 16 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. His laughter, his jokes, his hugs, and his never-ending “I love yous” will be missed.
A visitation will be held on Thursday, November 30, 2023 from 6:00-8:00pm in the chapel at A Natural State Funeral Service in Jacksonville, Arkansas.
There will be a family-hosted memorial service on Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 2:00pm at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church; 100 Conway Rd, North Little Rock, Arkansas 72117.
In lieu of flowers, please spend a couple of bucks buying lottery tickets. Dennis always said if he won big, he’d donate half to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, so if you win – do that.
Arrangements by A Natural State Funeral Service 2620 West Main Street, Jacksonville, Arkansas 72076. 501-982-3400. Online guestbook available at www.anaturalstatefuneralservice.com