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Myrna Anita Hill Kerr

Memorial for Myrna Anita Hill Kerr

Born in Austin, Texas on Feb. 13, 1940
Departed on May 11, 2009 and resided in Austin, TX.
Service: Friday, May 15, 2009
10:00 am
Cemetery: Evergreen Cemetery
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

The bare facts are fairly simple. She was born "Infant Hill," a name which became important every time her birth certificate was required, on February 13, 1940 at the old red brick "Brack." Her parents were Wooldridge Hill and Ruby Mae Downs. Sadly the marriage did not survive Wooldridge's World War II service in the Navy's Pacific Fleet, and she had difficulty bonding with her father until later in life. One of her great joys was finding the love letters he had written Ruby during the War. She remained close to her mothers' family throughout her life, especially her uncle Karl Downs' daughter, Karlene, whom we pray for today, her Aunt Billie, who is only nine years older, and her cousins the Ritchersons.

The family grew up in Simpson United Methodist Church, where her grandfather, Papa Downs, had preached. She spent weekends with her grandmother Lucretia Downs, at the home place on 12th street, until the morning at the age of 11 when she awoke to find that Mama Downs had passed in the bed next to her. For a brief time, Myrna lived in California with her Aunt Billie and her Uncle Joseph Cox. Upon her return to Austin, Myrna found that her dyslexia made it challenging to achieve academic success, but with the help of her reading teacher, Bertha Means, and her penchant for organizing and directing many school activities, she was able to graduate from Old Anderson High School. She was especially proud of her abilities as drum majorette and her 19 inch waist.

After a short time at Texas Southern University, Myrna returned to Austin and lived with her mother, taking on a variety of jobs. She loved her father's second wife, Mary Hill, and enjoyed the new family Mama Mary gave her, with brothers Donald, David, Douglas, and also Marva, Marguerite, and Valarie. She also spent time with her grandfather Cornelius Hill, Popsie's other progeny, including her cousins Elizabeth and Margaret Wright. Myrna often talked fondly of the time she and Ruby spent living at the Rosewood Court, and the many friends they had there. She loved her mother's sisters and brothers, and was thrilled when several of them joined Ruby and Myrna when they bought a home in Cedar Valley.

Myrna gave birth to Mila Ane', her oldest daughter, in 1966. While working at the Austin State School, Myrna became supervisor of the dormitory for deaf males and in the summer of 1970 was assigned a new young male employee, Stan Kerr. She enjoyed being his boss so much she decided to take up the position permanently. However, because he was White and she was Black, Myrna was fired when it became known they were dating. Stan promised to take of her and Mila, and he and Myrna were married at St. James Episcopal Church on May 22, 1971. Myrna had come to St. James in 1957 and had been mentored there by Hortense Lawson, Helen Edwards, Julia Bryant, Doris Brooks and other Episcopal Church Women. Helen warned her that this marriage wouldn't last long.

While working as weekend House Parents at Vaughn House for the Deaf, Stan and Myrna suffered the miscarriage of their son, Shawn, but in 1972, Myrna gave birth to Tamara Eve, their last child.

Myrna supported Stan while he attended Huston-Tillotson and the UT Law School, and was pleased when he returned to HT to teach government. Her mother and uncles Karl and Bob Downs had all worked there, and many of her family and friends worked at or attended HT as well. Despite her pride in renewing the HT connection, she eventually insisted Stan make a living wage. After the death of her mother Ruby, she joined him in working for Travis County, where she reordered the file system and made many friends.

In the meantime, she had engaged in a variety of activities, as a wife, mother, daughter, seamstress, caterer, floral designer, wedding consultant, and especially an election worker par excellence under the tutelage of Ida Bess Jackson and Claudia Allen. Myrna retired from the County Clerk's office when her health required her to do so. She entered dialysis under the care of Dr. Jack Moncrief, who had also treated her uncle, Big Rich. She became President of the Patient Action Committee, and organized their activities and meetings.

At one point, Myrna sold her mother's house to Mark Jackson, a contractor from East Austin, and saw her daughter Mila marry Mark, perhaps to keep the home in the family. Myrna greatly enjoyed shopping for her grandchildren, Mattea, Hannah, AJ, and Danielle Aldridge on Tamara's side, and Miranda and Mariah on Mila's side. She also had no problem calling Mark to come and do projects in and around her house that she couldn't get Stan do do, or that he hadn't gotten around to yet. She must be ecstatic that her driveway is clean!

Myrna was a prodigious talker and spent hours on the phone taking car of St. James' business, dialysis business, family and friends business, County Clerk Business, Soap Opera business, OK - everybody's business! She especially talked with her Georgia, Kathy Watts, Doris Brooks, and Mary Hill. She loved taking care of her many godchildren, including Angie and Carla Taylor, Bridgette Watts, and Keith Robinson (Keito St. James). She also loved the Ritcherson clan, and several young adults that entered and exited her life during her journey.

She developed a bond with Stan's mother, sister, and their families similar to those she had with the Hills and Downs. One of the defining moments of Myrna's life came when her father was dying of cancer, and she took his final wife, Bernice (Bennie), to the Temple VA to be with him. After the funeral, Myrna took pride in bringing all 3 of his wives together in her home for the reception, and marveled as they sat on her couch and talked. Myrna could bring people together, and she could solve problems.

Myrna never went far from her mother. Stan, Myrna and Mila lived in Ruby's back room when they married, and moved across the street on Kitty for 4 years. Then they (and now Tamara) moved half a block down the corner on Berene for 11 years. When Ruby became infirmed, Myrna took her in, and then moved everyone a whole 2 blocks away to Mr. Norman's house on Springdale so Ruby would have more room. After Ruby died in her arms, Myrna moved her mother to Evergreen, and now Myrna is moving there also, to be closer with her mother, Wooldridge, Popsie, Mama and Papa Downs, Uncles Karl, Bob, Big Rich, and her little stillborn son.

Myrna Anita Hill Kerr passed over on Monday, May 11, 2009, while looking into her husband's eyes as he told her he loved her. Jesus of Nazareth had been invited to come quickly and either heal her body or take her home before the pain became unbearable. He graciously came into their home as the last guest in a one week vigil, and offered Myrna an ultimate healing, which she accepted then departed with him.

We miss her already, but we know she's healthy, happy, in good company and probably organizing something. We would like to thank all of the family members and friends that came to say goodbye at her bedside and offer their prayers. Myrna's last week with us was bearable even at times joyous because of your love, hugs, conversations, food, and physical labor. We cannot thank all of you enough, especially Sharon Bowser.

Donations in lieu of flowers to Moncrief Dialysis Center PAC or St. James Episcopal Church's Memorial fund.

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