Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Virginia Byerly Kerr Aug. 8, 1933 - Sept. 17, 2013 Oakland Resident's Life Was Surrounded by Music

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Virginia Byerly Kerr Aug. 8, 1933 - Sept. 17, 2013 Oakland Resident's Life Was Surrounded by Music

Article excerpt

Virginia Byerly Kerr's life was filled with music.

Her mother, Virginia Clingerman Byerly, was one of the five founders of the Pittsburgh Opera in 1940, and as a girl Ms. Kerr would listen to the fledgling opera company rehearse in her home on Lytton Avenue in Oakland.

As an adult, she and her husband, Arthur Kerr Jr., pursued opera, its recitatives and arias, in grand opera houses as they traveled throughout the nation and around the globe.

Ms. Kerr of Oakland died Sept. 17 due to cardiac arrest after choking at PNC Park before a Pirates game, another of her passions. She was 80.

"Virginia occupied a very loved position within the Pittsburgh opera family," said Christopher Hahn, general director of the opera company. "She was very supportive of the opera, and it was, I have been told, her greatest passion."

The Pittsburgh Opera issued a statement, saying Ms. Kerr "was a member of the Pittsburgh opera family longer than anyone else," adding that she displayed "enormous affection and generosity" to the company throughout her life.

In addition to her seats at the Pittsburgh Opera, she was a regular at the Pittsburgh Symphony and Pittsburgh Ballet, and made numerous trips to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, the Glimmerglass Opera in upstate New York, and the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico, as well as numerous trips to operas in Europe.

Among her favorites, according to Mr. Kerr, were "The Ring," a cycle of four operas by Richard Wagner, and Mozart's "The Magic Flute," along with "any classical opera, really."

Ms. Kerr, a Pittsburgh native, attended the Falk School and was a 1951 graduate of the Ellis School where she was freshman class president, served as student council president her senior year and was a four-year member of the glee club.

She participated on the field hockey, basketball and softball teams, the skating club and was a member of the varsity field hockey and basketball teams. In 2006 she was inducted into the Ellis School Sports Hall of Fame.

She was a 1955 graduate of Wellesley College, where she studied botany and sat on the board of directors of Kerr Engineered Sales Co., her husband's family business, which provides services to the oil and gas industry. …

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