Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Herbert Kerr:105 years and going strong

Published:Saturday | February 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM
105-year-old Herbert Kerr and his daughter, Hazel, at home in Cedar Hill in Somerton, St James. - Photo by Christopher Thomas

Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU: Reaching 105 years old is a major milestone, and Herbert Kerr of Cedar Hill in Somerton, St James, has lived an industrious existence in as many years.

Although he is now wheelchair-bound and partially blind, the centenarian's hearing and memory proved to be as sharp as ever when Western Focus visited his home on Tuesday.

"Why I've lived so long is the kind of life that I lived, and God blessed me. The blessing of God is always on me. I have never lived a bad life," he said of his longevity.

Born on December 29, 1906, to Leonard and Frances Kerr, Herbert was raised in a close-knit family that consisted of a sister and many cousins, with whom he grew up.

"My mother used to be a housekeeper for some doctors and ministers, and so on, and she was a church lady as well. My father was a butcher man," he recalled.

"I grew with my family - all decent and intelligent ... . I grew like a decent boy."

While growing up, he attended school and church in the neighbouring Marley district and would later serve as a member of the Marley Anglican Church's management committee. Kerr also went to school in Somerton and Cedar Hill. The latter school was located on the very plot of land where his current dwelling sits.

After leaving school, Kerr worked as a small-scale farmer and later became a truck driver. He would often wake at 4 a.m. and drive to Kingston to pick up goods from the wharf for delivery to business operators in Montego Bay.

"I used to farm banana, sugar cane, and ground provisions, and I used to drive my own cane to Hampden Estate," he said reflectively.

On February 23, 1933, he married his now-deceased wife, Ruby, with whom he had four children - Phillon (deceased), Hazel, Cynthia, and Fay. The couple was later blessed with eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.


Kerr's daughter, Hazel, recounted, "He and my mother used to accompany us to church. They would get us dressed and we would walk off to Sunday School, which was not too far away. We could walk easily.

"Then they would come to church and sit with us, and to me, that was just wonderful, them giving us this spiritual support because they taught us from the Bible concepts which they believed we should grow up with. We didn't have a lot of money, but we were never without what was really necessary."

Hazel also shared that during her father's truck-driving days, her mother would prepare lunch for him and time his arrival from neighbouring Lima so he could pick up his food on time.

The senior Kerr had words of wisdom for the younger generation.

"I would like them to be intelligent by attending school, and for them to get in all the education they can get," he advised.