My Father Died Last Night

Two years ago this month, I wrote a similar blog post My Mother Died Last Night. I don’t know if it a coincidence or a sign that my father died in the same month.

This was a Facebook post I created this morning. I’m posting here to preserve it. I will write a more traditional obituary later. ~ Sue

My dad Jim Kerr died overnight. He was 83. He was born in Beltzhoover, grew up in Brentwood, and lived most of his adult life in West Mifflin.

He spent over 50 years in the steel mills, He started with J&L Steel, then worked for LTV, Shenango Steel, Koppers, and ArcelorMittal He worked in the desulfurization unit, cleaning the air and water. He knew he was poisoning both and that tax credits were ridiculous. But the mills kept him in work. It was a terrible compromise to force on workers.

My Dad loved the Steelers, appreciated the Pirates, and liked the Penguins. He enjoyed cooking and dreamed of hosting a show called “The Leftover Cook” where participants offered up the real leftovers in their home and he made a meal.

My mum Kerry Pryor Kerr died two years ago. My brother Jimmy Kerr and his two children, Ethan and Jessi, survive along with me.

There’s more to share. I am disconsolate at being alone in the world. Most of my family is gone. I am so sad.

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I don’t even have a car or a dress and I only have one photo here. He never knew what happened to me these past months. It would have broken his heart.

He lived a difficult and lonely life keeping family secrets, not trusting anyone, and carrying a traumatic burden. His family didn’t respect or cherish him ever. He never felt lovable. But he did his duty to them. Now the secrets are theirs alone to keep. He is free.

He was the actual quintessential Pittsburgh man- a steelworker, a Catholic, drinker of beer, sports fan, even a semi-frequent sojourner to the Outer Banks as far back as the 1950’s. He carried the weight of other people’s choices. He didn’t have a chance to go to college, but loved learning.

When my mum died, I did not handle it well at all. But I had my wife’s support. Now I’m truly alone. The people who knew me best are gone from my life. It isn’t fair at all.

This is only my opinion, my narrative of my Dad’s life. I will write a more robust obituary tomorrow. Tonight, I’m a person without parents. I will cry forever that their time on earth was so troubled, traumatic, and often terrifying. They deserved better. Better does not mean romanticizing their lived lives. Better means stopping the secret keeping, naming the bad actors, and stopping the cycle. I refuse to live that life.

I rail against the heavens that created the pain in the first place and

My Dad was an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. He was self-medicating and desperate for the American dream he was denied. His father was a monster, but my father never got over wanting his approval. He was a good and hard worker. He was proud that both of his kids earned master’s degrees.

I loved my Dad. I can’t imagine moving through a world without him in it. But here we are …

His favorite song was ‘The Rose,’

Final arrangements will be announced soon. I am asking my friends and colleagues to consider a donation in her honor to Kerry’s Kitten Fund rather than flowers.


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