Obituary: Vernon Norman Kerr – Mar. 11, 1928 – May 28, 2020


Vernon Norman Kerr, 92, passed away May 28, 2020 at Aspen Ridge Lodge in Los Alamos, NM. He was born on March 11, 1928 in Gallup, NM to Norman Alexander Kerr and Kathrine Elizabeth (nee Watkins) Kerr.

After graduating from Gallup High School, Vernon attended Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM, earning a BA in biology and chemistry. He started working on his Master’s degree, but was drafted into the Army during the Korea War where he served as a Medical Laboratory Technician in the 28th General Hospital Unit. After being discharged, he returned to Highlands to complete his Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry. During that time he met and married the love of his life, Bettie Poe. Upon graduation, he joined the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory where he spent the next 32 years, retiring in 1987.

Vernon spent all of his adult life in public service to his country and community. He served 16 years in the New Mexico State Legislature as the representative for Los Alamos, two years on the Los Alamos County Council, and as Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Finance during the last year of Governor Garrey Carruthers’ administration.

Vernon and his wife Bettie were charter members of the White Rock Presbyterian Church. Vernon was a ruling elder in the church and chaired the committee for building the church.

Vernon enjoyed working with the youth of our community. He helped organize Cub Scout Pack 326, as well as organizing and serving as a leader for Explorer Post 20 in Los Alamos. During his retirement years, he served many years as a counselor for the American Legion’s Boys State program, which teaches civics to high school youth.

Vernon is survived by his son, David V. Kerr and wife Terry of Locust Grove, VA, his daughter Leslie M. Gurley and husband Arlin of Jemez Springs, NM, granddaughter Crystal A. Gurley of White Rock, NM, grandson Jeremiah Kerr and wife Maria of Aztec, NM, along with one great-granddaughter and three great-grandsons. He is preceded in death by his parents Norman and
Elizabeth, his wife of 65 years Bettie Loraine Kerr, his youngest son Stuart B. Kerr, and his brother Clifford Kerr.

The family would like to acknowledge the outstanding care and compassion that Vernon received from the staff at Aspen Ridge Lodge and the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses during his final weeks. Services will be scheduled for a late date. The family of Vernon N. Kerr has entrusted the care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Espanola Valley.