Barbara Kerr
Barbara Kerr

Obituary of Barbara Kerr

Barbara Jane Kerr 12/18/1939 - 10/9/2020 Barbara Jane Byrns was the seventh of ten children born to Ray and Alice Dunnigan Byrns and raised on a dairy farm near the town of Black River Falls in western Wisconsin. She walked to a nearby one-room grade school, and graduated from Black River High School where she excelled in secretarial and home-economics. She then enrolled in nursing school in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. She met and married George Fox, and they welcomed two daughters, Stacie and Inger. After moving near Madison, that marriage ended in divorce. In 1980, Barbara married a widower, Rod Kerr, whom she had known for some time. She moved to California, and undertook the co-parenting of 5 teenagers. This was often challenging, but Barbara carried it off with love and charm and wisdom. Barbara had not completed her nursing degree, but her secretarial skills stood her in good stead. She was proficient in shorthand and could type like the wind. With the kids heading to college, she decided to re-enter the workforce and was hired at Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore, CA. She became a member of the senior staff, working mostly on contracts dealing with classified procurements. Barbara’s and Rod’s main interest outside of family and church was traveling, and they visited Alaska, Hawaii, Washington DC, Costa Rica, and Europe multiple times with Elderhostel and Viking River Cruises, often with siblings. Barbara was raised in the strong Irish Catholic tradition, and after marrying a Presbyterian she attended two church services every Sunday. She enjoyed the fellowship of Mariners groups for regular parties and meeting new friends. Barbara and Rod both retired in 1998, and in 2006 made the transition to the northwest where their three children and grandchildren are located. They moved into a new home in Sherwood, OR. Barbara decided to join the Tualatin Presbyterian Church, and served as a deacon for some years. Barbara loved to quilt and created several heirloom quilts for her family as well as many small quilts for charity. Barbara was diagnosed with CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) in 2001. She was at stage zero for around 13 years, but finally needed treatments. Luckily we lived near OHSU in Portland where there was a young professor specializing in CLL. She was a very early adopter of new immunotherapies which treated her disease without the side effects of most chemotherapies. These drugs managed to keep her CLL under control, but her immune system deteriorated. Severe infections necessitated several hospital stays. She entered OHSU Hospital on September 27 and passed away on October 9, 2020. Her family was all with her, and she received loving video messages from her six grandchildren. Barbara was preceded in death by her parents, a sister Monica, five brothers: David, Victor, Paul, Mike and Jerry, stepdaughter Diana, and stepson John. She is survived by her devoted husband Rod, sisters Mary, Margaret and Joan, children Stacie (Ken), Rob (Lorraine), and Inger (Steve) as well as her beloved grandchildren: Anna, Fox, Kyle, Katie, Emma, and Keaton.The family wishes to thank all her relatives and friends for their support and prayers, and are especially grateful to the superb and loving doctors and nurses at the OHSU Hospitals for the exceptional care they administered. Condolences can be sent to: rgbjkerr@gmail.
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