By Jane A. Marlowe
Catherine Kay Starr Kerr was honored by her family and friends on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 with the dedication of a “Chickee” hut at Residents Beach, Marco Island. The dedication was held at noon with her husband, Philip, three of her seven children, Jackie, Janice, Todd and her son-in-law, Eddie Kaddick and many friends in attendance.
Bob Newman welcomed the very large gathering to the celebration of Kay’s life. “Kay Kerr was a wonderful, marvelous woman. This is the first time this has happened on the beach. We are dedicating the Chickee to Kay today to remember her spirit always.”
Her friends, the Beach Buddies, launched a campaign to memorialize Kay after her death in June, 2011. Kay loved the beach. It was one of her favorite places where she met so many new friends who all became her buddies. The decision to dedicate a Chickee to her was an easy choice. Carol Roland and Bob Newman coordinated the plans, consulted with MICA and received approval to have a Chickee built, third from the left on the beach where the Beach Buddies regularly gathered.
Carol Roland, Kay’s good friend, organized the letter writing campaign to the Beach Buddies. Donations flowed in along with lovely notes remembering Kay. So many responses repeated a familiar theme.
“She was my dearest friend and my family loved her. She would be overjoyed to know that her memory lives on, on the beach she loved so much.”
“I will miss seeing this beautiful person on the beach. She was so kind, caring and thoughtful.”
Carol commented, “Kay made me feel so comfortable, and she gave the same feeling to everyone else who knew her. She was wonderful to my dad picking him up every day when he could no longer drive.” She read a poem describing her dear friend.
Carmen Dasti, another close friend of the Kerrs, along with his wife, Barb, paid tribute to Kay’s generosity and kindness and her love of a good time, “one half glass at a time!”
“Kay is up there looking down at us and is probably saying,”…”Oh, enough already, shut up and let’s have a cocktail!”
Kay’s children, Jackie, Janice and Todd unveiled a plaque placed on the Chickee: In Memory of Kay Kerr With Love Her Beach Buddies. Father Gordon Zanetti, Parochial Vicar of San Marco Catholic Church, offered a blessing: “… that all the activities that take place here will build up the spirit of community among us and lead to the well being of all. Father, we praise You and ask Your blessing through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”
Kay and her husband, Phil, had seven children and 14 grandchildren. They wintered at Riverside since 1991 and maintained two other condos there to accommodate their large family. Kay enjoyed having her family come often and the condos were often bustling with family and friends.
Kay loved the beach and organized beach walks and swimming. Some of the husbands formed sand bocce teams and played in front of their favorite Chickee. The women cheered them on or chatted, exchanging recipes, and Kay often dispersed sound advice to her friends. She was ever kind and truly concerned.
The buddies read and shared books with one another and enjoyed many gatherings at each other’s homes. Phil and Kay entertained the Beach Buddies for the Annual Christmas Boat Parade at their Riverside home where they all had waterfront seats.
It wasn’t all recipes and casual chatting with Kay, although her chocolate chip cookies were legendary! She LOVED the Red Sox and the Patriots and was a devoted fan. She knew all the statistics of the players and enjoyed spirited debate about the merits of HER teams.
Kay particularly liked to send cards to her buddies on all occasions. When she was seriously ill in the hospital last June, she asked her daughter, Jackie, to purchase cards for a friend who was ill and for other friends whose birthdays were coming up. This was June 15, the day before she died.
Her last winter was difficult. She sustained a shoulder injury in a fall and her health declined for the next several months. She went home to Franklin, New Hampshire in May, and succumbed on June 16, 2011.
Phil Kerr spoke about his 54 years of life with Kay. He will remember always that she had a cup in their bedroom and the name of any friend who was sick or in need was placed in the cup for special prayers.
Janice Kerr Kaddick, was celebrating her birthday on this special day of remembrance of her mother. The group sang Happy Birthday to Janice and then gathered in the picnic area for a delicious lunch arranged by the Kerr family.