Ken was truly on of my best friends. We spent a great deal of time together whenever possible. He was another Christian brother and went home to be with the Lord in July of 2004. I could write pages about Ken, but the article written by Jack Williams of the San Diego tribune sums it up well. In loving memory of Ken, I’ve reprinted it below:
The first time Kenneth A. Kerr Jr. saw a Walt Disney character dart across a movie screen, animation captured his imagination.
All he could think about was some day, in some way, working for Disney.
So he wrote a letter to his childhood hero, hoping for some advice and encouragement. When he received a reply, signed by Disney himself, he was ecstatic.
“Ken was 5 or 6 at the time,” said his sister, Joyce Kerr. “He never lost that boyhood enthusiasm, and it was one of his most endearing qualities.”
In 1978, with a decade of experience in art and marketing, Mr. Kerr joined the executive ranks of Walt Disney Imagineering, a division of The Walt Disney Co. in Glendale.
During the next five years, he was in charge of graphics and signage development for Disney theme parks, including Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland and an updated Fantasyland.
Mr. Kerr, who operated AdMark Inc. in La Jolla in recent years, died July 24 at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. He was 61.
He had been ill since February and died of respiratory failure, his sister said.
During a 36-year career in various aspects of marketing, Mr. Kerr designed and developed the California Dancing Raisins, introduced in a 1986 promotional campaign by the California Raisin Board.
As director of research and development and marketing communications for Applause Inc. in Woodland Hills from 1983 to 1987, he also was involved in developing and licensing products depicting several characters popular with children. They included the Smurfs, Wuzzles, Gummi Bears, Sad Sam, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and the Muppets.
Mr. Kerr returned to his San Diego roots in 1987, joining SeaWorld as director of marketing communications. He helped produce the theme park’s 25th anniversary celebration and organized and directed its first internal creative services department.
After forming his own company, Ken Kerr & Associates, in 1988, he took on such clients as Johnson & Johnson, author Ken Blanchard, Block Medical and Mail Boxes Etc.
With AdMark Inc., he created infomercial’s for such clients as Victoria Principal and Dale Evans. He also lectured extensively and wrote two books, “Mouse Power: Marketing Secrets of the Magic Kingdom and Licensing,” and “The Way Hollywood Makes Its Fortune & You Can Too!”
Throughout his career, Mr. Kerr painted in watercolors, concentrating on Americana-inspired scenes. His paintings have been exhibited by the National Watercolor Society, the San Diego Art Institute, the Los Angeles Art Association and the Smithsonian Institute.
Thirteen of his paintings, created over a 20-year period, have been displayed in Washington, D.C., by the Air Force Historical and Documentary Art Program.
“Ken began painting when he was about 2,” his sister said.
He was listed in Who’s Who in American Art and won more than 100 regional and national awards for his watercolors.
Mr. Kerr, a native of Pittsburgh, moved with his family as a child to La Mesa. He graduated from Grossmont High School and San Diego City College, then earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
He began his career in San Diego in 1968 as an art director and a copywriter at the Phillips Ramsey public relations agency. The following year, he joined Group West Inc. in Los Angeles, where he created Woodsy Owl and the advertising slogan, “Give A Hoot, Don’t Pollute,” for the National Park Service.