William Joseph Kerr was born to Lloyd and Laura (Becker) Kerr on Nov. 1, 1928, in Valentine, Neb. He passed away on Feb. 21, 2018, at the Cherry County Hospital.
He, along with his sister, June, his parents and grandparents, lived on a farm north of Valentine and he attended the Ward School. Siblings, George, Jack, and Jerry followed.
Later, Willie worked at various jobs, mostly in car mechanics until he enlisted in the Navy in 1945. During his service time, his ship docked in numerous places, including Hawaii, Japan, and Australia. His ship also participated in the A-Bomb test on Bikini Atoll. Upon his discharge, he returned to Valentine and worked at the Ford Garage under the G.I. Bill. In 1949 he married Mary Melton and to this union were born 2 daughters, Kathleen and Peggy. While working at the garage, he began taking flying lessons and earned numerous licenses. With the help and encouragement of some community members, he and a partner started Sandhills Aero Service. During his years at Sandhills Aero Service he and his then partner, Bob Kilmer provided the community with air ambulance, commercial air taxi, crop spraying, flight lessons and air maintenance. On Jan. 24, 2008, in Kearney, Neb., he and Bob Kilmer both received the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award, which was initiated by the Federal Aviation Administration in honor of the first pioneers of flight, Orville, and Wilber Wright. Willie retired from Sandhills Aero Service in 2001 and he then started transporting doctors and patients from the Cherry County Hospital. His family and his hospital family were a very important part of his life.
Preceding him in death were his parents; sister, June Faubion; brothers, George and Jack Kerr. Left to mourn his passing are his wife of 68 years, Mary; daughters and sons-in-law, Kathy and Ron Brown and Peggy and Lonie Snell; his precious granddaughters, April Snell and Abby Subjeck (Brandon) and his great-granddaughter, Hattie Subjeck, who was so much entertainment for him. Also surviving is one brother, Jerry (Joann). He will be greatly missed by his faithful dog and friend, Dottie. Willie has flown his last flight and may he rest in peace.
Funeral service for William (Willie) Kerr was held on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Valentine. Burial followed at Mount Hope Cemetery in Valentine. Sandoz Chapel of the Pines was in charge of service arrangements.