Obituary: Etta Marie Kerr

Etta M. Kerr, 91, of Highmore, passed away Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 surrounded by her family at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, S.D.
Funeral service was 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Church of Christ, Highmore, with Pastor Jeffry McKean. Burial will follow at the Highmore Cemetery. Visitation was Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 by a prayer service, all at the Church of Christ, Highmore.
Etta Marie James was born on Sept. 15, 1928, near Hazleton, Kan., to Richard and Lola James. Her father died when she was just 5 years old, leaving her mother to raise five children through the “Dirty Thirties” in rural Kansas. From growing up in the Great Depression, her unmatched work ethic and unwavering commitment to her family was born. She began cleaning homes as a young girl to help support the family and was given singing lessons in exchange for her work.
After graduating high school, she was married. To this union was born a son, James Craig. Later, she moved to Wichita and worked as a bank teller for a time, before eventually catching the eye of a handsome Kansas custom harvester. Etta married Jim Kerr on July 29, 1955, in Blunt, S.D. ,because that happened to be where they were combining and that was the first day it rained. Following the ceremony, Jim pushed his new bride up and down Main Street Blunt in a wheelbarrow. Five children followed: Dale Lee, Ramona Kay, Larry Jo, Jackie Lynn and Karla Marie.
The family split their time between farming operations in Garden Plain, Kan., and Holabird, S.D., and combined wheat everywhere in between. Eventually, they moved to South Dakoa full time and soon after settled on their present farm west of Highmore.
The ultimate farm wife, Etta remained the glue that kept the farm and family together. Whether it was raising children, tending livestock, doing the bookkeeping, or working outside, she never complained. Her unwavering faith and longtime membership in the Church of Christ were the foundation for her life of service to others.
Her humor and quick wit gave her the unique ability to light up a room. The only thing quicker than her wit was her driving speed! Leaving a trail of dust on the horizon in her nearly airborne Ford LTD, she was the fastest parts runner in the Midwest. Etta was known for delivering four course meals, complete with dessert and ice cream, to harvest crews every summer. No one ever went hungry in the field or at her table – all were welcome.
Etta’s greatest joys in life were the children, grandchildren and Sunday School students she raised. She made every activity an adventure and taught many how to cook, sew, and drive a stick shift. Always loving, never judgmental, she had an unmatched way of making the situation a lesson, whether you knew it or not. “Grandma Etta” to all, she passed on her musical abilities and her faith in the Lord to those whose lives she touched.
At age 80, she “retired” from the farm and made her home at Highmore Health. She loved the friends and staff, developing a reputation as reigning coloring contest champion and fierce competitor in any activity.
A lifelong singer, she led music in church for many years and continued this at the nursing home. Even in her final days, she was heard singing in her hospital room both day and night.
Survivors include her husband of 64 years, Jim; sons, Craig (Peggy) Fausett and Larry Kerr of Highmore; daughters, Jackie (Paul) Carver of Huron and Karla Kerr of Blunt; grandchildren, Amy (Jason) Gebhard, Drew (Becky) Fausett, Emily Kerr, Dani (Chad) Keene, Brittany Kerr, Lauren (Ethan) Marquardt, Tyler Carver, Matilyn Kerr, Bramm, and Kole Pickner; great-grandchildren, Caleb and Levi Gebhard, Isaac and Elijah Fausett, Benton, Lillian and Charlotte Keene, and Oliver and Eevee Marquardt; special sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Eileen and Don Black of Cheney, Kan.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Reunited in heaven with their mother are her children, Dale Lee and infant, Ramona Kay, as well as her parents, in-laws and her siblings, Art, Earl and Paul James and Eva Stamm.
The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the staff at Avera St. Mary’s for providing such compassionate care and to Etta’s Highmore Health family for giving her a wonderful home away from home for the past 11 years.
Luze Funeral Home of Highmore has been entrusted with Etta’s arrangements. Visit