Long-time state Senator dies

Wednesday, January 25th 2006, 12:39 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State Sen. Robert M. Kerr, a longtime Democratic legislator from Altus who was a strong supporter of the farming industry and helped bring new technology to law enforcement, died Wednesday after a long illness, authorities said. He was 73.

Kerr, surrounded by members of his family and friends, died shortly before 7 a.m. at the OU Medical Center, the Senate said in a news release.

``We are deeply saddened at the passing of our friend and colleague,'' Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan said. ``He was a dedicated public servant who loved Oklahoma.''

State senators were informed nearly a year ago that Kerr was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer that was first diagnosed 12 years ago. In remission for 11 years, doctors discovered that the cancer had returned in early 2005.

Kerr said at that time he wanted to finish out the remaining two years on his term.

``Senator Kerr was a brave an honorable man, a model public servant and a good friend whom I will dearly miss,'' said Senate Minority Leader Glenn Coffee.

A native of Friendship, Kerr was a farmer, stockman and real estate developer who was elected to the state Senate in 1986. He represented all or parts of eight southwestern Oklahoma counties.

Kerr, assistant majority leader of the Senate, chaired the Senate agriculture and rules committees during his years in the Senate. He was vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee at the time of his death.

Kerr authored legislation that created the Automated Fingerprint Identification System that gave the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies access to crime-fighting computer technology.

He also authored legislation that created the state-of-the-art Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center at Oklahoma State University, which promotes the processing of goods produced on Oklahoma farms.

OSU honored Kerr by naming the ``Robert M. Kerr Auditorium'' in his honor for his role in developing the center in 1996.

``Bob Kerr was the kind of public servant that all of us should have been and I think that most of us tried to be _ it was just a lot easier for him,'' said former Sen. Dick Wilkerson.

Kerr is survived by his wife, Robbie, a daughter, two sons and five grandchildren. Funeral services were pending at Lowell-Tims Funeral Home of Altus.