James “Jim” Kerr passed away with his daughter, Ashley, at his side on August 4, 2022 at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, MN after an eight-month battle with congestive heart failure. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 1:00 pm on Friday, August 12, 2022 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tracy. Visitation will be 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Friday at the church. Interment is in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Tracy. Online condolences may be sent at www.stephensfuneralservice.com. Stephens Funeral Service – Tracy Area Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
On March 31st, 1936, twin sons, John Roger and James Emmanuel, were born to Johanna (O’Hearn) and John Byron (Bevo) Kerr in Tracy, MN. John Byron was a professional baseball player in the minor leagues from Sheldon, Iowa and was the first player signed by the Tracy baseball league in 1927. Jim lived in Tracy with his parents, Aunt Marie, sister Betty, brother Roger and cousin, Eleene Gorman and then accompanied his grandmother, Margaret O’Hearn, on her return to Oregon in 1944 where he remained until 1952.
While in Oregon, he attended the Santiam Central one room schoolhouse until the 5th grade and then was promoted to 7th grade where he attended Saint Mary’s Academy in Albany, Oregon for two years. While there he competed in wrestling for three years. He then returned to Tracy for his senior year in 1952. He competed in the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament in 1953. Jim then attended Saint Thomas College from 1953-1957. He wrestled and was student coach for the last two years there. As a junior, Jim was named the Outstanding Wrestler in the MIAC. He lost only two MIAC matches during his 4 year college career – one by referee decision and the other by injury default. Jim also enjoyed playing and managing softball teams, both fast and slow pitch and participating in intermural sports during high school, college, and law career years. Jim began The Law School at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1960. He was then admitted to the Minnesota State Bar in 1961. On August 15th, 1955, Jim married Joan Ruth Anderson. Joan and Jim had three children, Michael Shawn, Colleen Marie and David Arthur. The couple divorced in 1962 with Jim’s alcoholism contributing to that event. Jim has been a recovering alcoholic for over 50 years. Joan later remarried and the children were adopted by her husband. Joan was the Minnesota Secretary of State for many years. Jim later received a direct commission as a first lieutenant in the Airforce Judge Advocate Corp. He served from January 1st, 1965 to June 14th, 1965. As he arrived at Lackland Airforce Base, Jim suffered a grand mal seizure and spent 28 days in Wilford Hall Hospital. He then was appointed civil law judge advocate at Lackland. Unfortunately, due to the seizure, Jim was terminated by two physical PEB boards and was honorably discharged. Jim returned to Tracy and was appointed Tracy City Attorney in 1973 and served in that position for 33 years. Meanwhile, he served as the City Attorney for a variety of other towns. Jim practiced both Civil and Trial Law in both court and jury trials as well as other areas of general practice. In 1973 John Roger and Jim were co-champions of the Pebble Creek Golf Invitational in Fergus Falls, MN. Jim believed John Roger was a superior athlete as he was highly successful in over 50 activities and interests. On October 24th, 1981, Jim had a daughter, Ashley Leona. Ashley was a Godsend to Jim since birth. In 1986, Jim discovered he had throat cancer. Fortunately, he had two successful operations at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Jim’s brother, John Roger was his “Rock” during these procedures. Jim participated in the MN Volunteer Attorney Program, served on the Sioux Valley (Sanford) hospital board of directors for over ten years, legally assisted Saint Mary’s school and Father Douglas Grams during the repair of the school roof and volunteered at the Tracy Food Shelf after his retirement. Jim was very proud of his Irish heritage and tried to be a good Roman Catholic for the last 40 years.
Jim is survived by his daughter Ashley Leona (Lucas) Picard; 3 grandchildren: Leona Maria, Gabriel Michael, Gianna Rose; and cousin Eleene Gorman, who was more like a sister to Jim. He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Johanna & John, sister Elaine Betty Jane and twin brother John Roger.