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Msgr. William A. Kerr



September 22, 1940 - May 13, 2009


Dan Soller Kancho

Phoenix Karate-do Association Kyokushinkai

It is with heartbreaking sadness that I report to the membership the death of Msgr. William Kerr, a long time personal friend and member of the Phoenix Karate-do Association Kyokushinkai International.  He will be missed and his death brings sadness to literally all corners of the world.  He was a great man who spent his life advocating peace among peoples throughout the world.

Msgr. was a world traveler who touched everyone he met… and he met so many!  He truly did walk with presidents, kings, queens and dignitaries of every kind imaginable. But he always walked with the common man as well.  His friends spanned generations and through his great gentlemanly grace he brought those generations together.  He loved all his friends and he in return was dearly loved.

Personally, he was one of my very best of friends and we were very close.  We spoke often and saw each other frequently.   He was an incredible mentor and confidante. We were travel partners as well and places such as London UK, Kigali Rwanda, Sarajevo Bosnia, Zagreb Croatia, Munich Germany, Brussels Belgium, Rome Italy, Waterloo Belgium come to mind. We had many other trips as well and we enjoyed each and every one of them.  We traveled together well and simply enjoyed each other’s company.   

For the Association, he was a tireless supporter and advisor.  He hosted many Yudansha and Association events and loved meeting everyone.  He found the many rules and etiquette of traditional karate fascinating and respected the discipline and principles of the art.  He delighted in asking about the members and knowing about their lives.  He provided sage advice on a number of complex issues to the Association. 

In 2000, he was honored to be made an Honorary Black Belt, one of only three in our history.  At that time, he was also given the special title of Mejin, honoring him for his ability to “see the board”.  His official citation read in part:

Msgr. William A. Kerr, Honorary Black Belt awarded on September 16, 2000 at Hombu Dojo for Public Service; recognized as a Mejin.  Recognized for his vision and support for higher education around the world, particularly in war torn countries.  Recognized as Mejin for his wisdom, gentlemanly grace, dignity and spiritual strength.

Professionally, Msgr. Kerr was an accomplished executive along with being an ordained Roman Catholic priest.  His various experiences included serving as Vicar General & Chancellor at the Tallahassee Diocese, Vice President at Catholic University, President of La Roche College, Executive Director of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, and at the time of his death, the Executive Director of the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University.   He took great pride in founding the Pacem In Terris Institute in 1993, which provided scholarships to over 450 students from war torn countries to study in the USA.  A number of these students have become Association Yudansha.

Msgr’s death is a tremendous personal loss to me and I feel profound sadness.

The death of Msgr and of our first Kancho, Raymond Elmore Shihan in 2006, leaves the Association with two incredible voids.  Great men visit infrequently.

We will celebrate Msgr’s incredible life in a special way during our summer gashuku, Camp Phoenix.  Before that time, I call upon all Yudansha, in every Phoenix dojo in the world, to remember Msgr. during the time of their next Mokuso.  Msgr. was a warrior and entered many a battle.   Lets us celebrate his life by answering the call of the dojo… and training even harder.  It is what warriors do.      OSU

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