Salon 20

Judith Katherine (Sumner) Kerr

June 5, 1938 ~ May 29, 2021 (age 82)


Longtime civic leader Judith Katherine Sumner Kerr, 82, of Amarillo, Texas, passed away on Saturday, May 29, 2021.

She was born in Shamrock, Wheeler County, Texas, to Emmitt Peazer and Lumarion Weir Sumner.  Moving multiple times throughout her childhood, she developed the ability to fit into any setting, make friends, exercise leadership, and command respect.

Known for her strong opinions, she could be gracious when needed and brutally honest when situations called for telling the truth and holding people accountable.

She attended Arkansas Tech University before marrying Robert G. Kerr in 1957 and promptly moving with him to Virginia when he served in the United States Army.  She worked as a reporter and later editor for the Amarillo Globe-News, overseeing the publication of two daily editions of what was first called the Society section, then the Women’s Page, and later the Lifestyle section as the role and contributions of women evolved and were recognized.

After leaving the newspaper, she worked at the United Way of Amarillo, the newly established Amarillo Psychiatric Pavilion, Plains Machinery, and later as a corporate officer for Pioneer Corporation where she represented the company when it was listed on the United States Stock Exchange.

She and Bob were longtime leaders and assisted to establish the Amarillo Zoological and Botanical Gardens and was involved in the creation of the Helium Monument in Amarillo.

She held numerous leadership positions with local, state, and national organizations.

An active Democratic, she was a fervent supporter of President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Texas Governor John Connally.

She had the skill to rapidly type out newspaper and magazine articles, press releases, and corporate reports using two fingers on a manual typewriter while holding a smoldering cigarette. She firmly resisted advances in technology, shunning first the electric typewriter and later word processors (now known as computers).  She had outstanding penmanship and when her grandchildren were young, she delighted them with illustrated envelopes holding letters of pride and encouragement.

Judith was as comfortable sitting on the loading dock of the Amarillo Globe-News smoking a cigarette and shooting the breeze with the pressmen of the newspaper as she was mixing and mingling with society’s elite from the local country clubs to events in Austin, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

She wanted to make sure her children, niece, and grandchildren could hold their own in social settings, drilling into them the proper way to set a table with fine china and crystal and silverware and which forks, spoons, and knives to use at the appropriate times and to always have a napkin in the lap.

At her family Christmas brunches, and when those skills could be employed, they were highly anticipated annual events during which many memories were created around sliced grapefruits, mounds of scrambled eggs, bacon, hams, turkeys, green bean casseroles, and candied yams.

She was the self-appointed keeper of family history and frequently told tales that may have on occasion been embellished or tweaked to put the family in the best possible light.

Always an optimist, every year she bought pots of geraniums to liven up her yard, and every year they succumbed to neglect.

She was the selfless go-to person who cared for numerous family members in their last days, making sure their needs were met and that they knew they were loved.  She was excessively generous of time, talent, and treasure.

While proud of the many professional accomplishments she notched over her lifetime, she felt extraordinarily blessed by a life well lived and a loving family.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, a sister-in-law, Sondra Currie, and a niece, Kim Currie Deckard.

Mrs. Kerr leaves to cherish her memories, two daughters, Katherine Kerr Kubatzky, and her husband, Tim Kubatzky, of Georgetown, and Sherry Kerr Forbes, of Amarillo, a brother, Jim Sumner and his wife Susie Sumner of Sonoita, Arizona, a sister, Robin Gantz of Amarillo, a brother-in-law Jim Currie and his wife Jeanie of Amarillo, five grandchildren, Melissa McAnally Whitaker and her husband, Jake Whitaker, of Amarillo, Corey Kubatzky and his wife, Lavenna Kubatzky, of Colorado Springs, Erin Kubatzky of Austin, Lindsay Kubatzky of Washington, D. C., and Sarah Forbes of Amarillo, three great-grandchildren, Kenzie Whitaker and Carson Whitaker of Amarillo, and Calvin Kubatzky of Colorado Springs, by six nieces and nephews, fourteen great-nieces and nephews, five great-great nieces and nephews, and a host of other relatives and friends.

She was a fiercely proud woman, wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, and will be missed.

The family asks in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to BSA Hospice of The Southwest, 5211 Southwest 9th Avenue, Suite 100, Amarillo, Texas 79106, phone number 806-356-0026, in memory of Mrs. Judith Katherine Kerr.

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