Alex `Andy' Kerr was adventurer, corporate lawyer, Navy veteran

Alex "Andy" Kerr was "an intelligent, determined, independent-minded adventurer," says his daughter, New York architect Laurie Kerr.

He had been a Navy captain and a General Electric space and nuclear-energy attorney. He survived the torpedoing of his cruiser during World War II, and served as an aide to Secretary of the Navy John Connally.

After retiring from the law in 1977 following the death of his first wife, Rusty Kerr, Mr. Kerr became a world-circling yachtsman. He also wrote books and bicycled across the United States to raise funds for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

He had overcome colon cancer the year before.

Mr. Kerr died Saturday (May 6) of cancer of the larynx. He was 78.

Born in the Australian outback to a cruise-ship violinist and his wife, Mr. Kerr came to Seattle with his family. He delivered newspapers by bicycle and was a doctor's assistant in an Alaska cannery.

At 19, he returned to Renton and took an examination for a Senate appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

He graduated from Annapolis into World War II. He served as a gunnery officer on the USS Honolulu, which underwent a torpedo attack in the Philippines, and he was re assigned to submarine duty.

When his hearing began to fail, the Navy sent him to George Washington University Law School. He graduated first in his class, then served as Navy officer in Naples, Italy, before becoming an aide to four secretaries of the Navy.

Former Annapolis colleague Hank Searls recalls that one morning during the Kennedy administration, Capt. Kerr, then a special counsel to Secretary Connally, opened a letter from Moscow.

"The writer, one Lee Harvey Oswald, asked that the secretary reverse his Marine Corps less-than-honorable discharge and grant him an `honorable' one," Searls said. "But Kerr had never been a rubber-stamp bureaucrat. He learned Oswald had been a `lousy' Marine. He advised Secretary Connally to turn down the request."

Connally, who went on to become governor of Texas, was wounded during the assassination of Kennedy by Oswald in 1963.

In his book "A Journey Amongst the Good and the Great," Mr. Kerr wondered whether Oswald had been gunning for Connally rather than Kennedy that day in Dallas.

After leaving the Navy, Mr. Kerr became a counsel for General Electric's Space Division and Nuclear Energy Division.

In 1977 he retired, moved to Europe and rode his bicycle from Paris to Athens. He also bought a sailboat and cruised the world.

His book, "Travels With Andiamo," details those trips undertaken with Susan Jovovich, also a former GE lawyer, whom he married in 1979.

The couple moved to Seattle in 1988, then to Friday Harbor, San Juan County, where his wife still resides.

Also surviving are son Alex Kerr Jr. of Thailand; brothers Basil Kerr of Seattle, and Tom Kerr of Olympia; and sisters Marjorie Grange of Poulsbo, Kitsap County, and Janet Kerr of France.

A memorial gathering will be held in Seattle in June.

Donations may go to Northwest Sarcoma Foundation, University of Washington Department of Orthopedics, Box 356500, Seattle, WA 98195.