Julie Kerr
August 24th, 1971 – March 17th, 2007

Our beloved daughter Julie died ten years ago.  We miss her greatly: her humor, her quiet wisdom, her cheerful voice, her zest for life, her thoughtfulness, her compassion, her silliness.  But we're left with wonderful memories of her life, some of which are encapsulated here.

Julie had a small memorial service at her home in San Diego.  You can read the newspaper obituary and some of the eulogies from the service.

The organization where Julie worked held a special conference in her honor.  At the conclusion of the classified portion of the conference, family members were invited to attend the rest of the day's activities, and for us it was an extraordinary experience.  Julie's coworkers from the local office, as well as from sister organizations in Baltimore and Princeton, talked about the impact of her technical contributions and what it was like to work with her.  A colleague from MIT created a crossword puzzle for the occasion (with answers), and several coworkers performed their own compositions in Julie's honor: For Julie (listen to the music and see the score) and They Light the Way (hear the song and read the lyrics).

Our friends got together and sponsored a memorial bench for Julie at Kelsey Creek Park in Bellevue, WA.  It's located at the best possible spot in the park: next to the rabbit enclosure by the animal barn, near a flower garden and overlooking a beautiful green valley.  In the summer there are lots of children running around, many of them with their grandparents who appreciate having a place to sit and rest for a while.  See photos of the dedication ceremony.

—Les & Arlyn Kerr

Photos

We've compiled some of our favorite pictures of Julie in a photo album.

Music

Julie started playing the cello in third grade, in the school music program.  Several years later she started taking private lessons.  She played in several youth orchestras, culminating in the select Seattle Youth Symphony.  Listen to Julie playing Larghetto, by Handel, as she recorded it in March, 1988, and hear her introduction to it in her own words.

Writing

Arlyn always thought of Julie as her Renaissance girl because she had so many talents: music, art, science, philosophy, languages, various crafts, etc.  One of her talents and joys was creative writing.  From age 7 to 13 she wrote and self-published a small book every year—first of illustrated short stories and later more like novellas.  When she was 15 she wrote a poem about her hero, cellist Jacqueline du Pré.

Computers

We bought our first computer in 1979, when Julie was eight.  Soon she was doing some fancy Basic programming, as well as earning good pay teaching computers to other children.  In 1983 she led a team to second place in an international programming contest for elementary school students.

One of our favorite presents from her was a game she and Joel programmed three months before her death.  It's a puzzle that can be played at many levels from child-easy to diabolical.  It's called Planarity, and we play it all the time.

Julie & Joel

Julie and Joel's home page includes links to math contests and sections on several trips; we're probably biased, but we think she did a great job combining photos, information, and reactions.  The best thing that ever happened to Julie was when she met Joel.  They shared the same values, interests, and temperaments.  They worked together at CCR.  Even their names are similar, resulting in the term Joelie to stand for the pair.

Vegetarianism

Because of her concern for animals, Julie became vegetarian, and then vegan.  She wasn't in-your-face about her beliefs, but she did try to help others aiming to adopt that diet/lifestyle.  For that purpose, she created an introduction to veganism.

Ferrets

Julie loved all animals, but especially ferrets.  She had many ferrets over the years, starting with Ellie when she was 14.  She loved the curiosity, energy, zany antics, and cuddliness of her "fuzzies".

Work

Julie knew she wanted to be a mathematician from an early age.  She worked for CCR (Center for Communications Research) every summer during graduate school, and full-time after getting her PhD from the University of Michigan.  Here's her resume from 1996.

CCR in La Jolla has a minimalist web page, but CCR-Princeton, its sister organization, does similar work and has a more extensive description of the work.  Julie loved doing research mathematics.  She felt fortunate to be able to do it as a career, and she loved working at CCR.  Here are some comments about Julie by her coworkers.

T-shirt Quilts

Arlyn made two quilts out of Julie's T-shirts.  T-shirts were Julie's standard attire, and she had about 40 of them—chosen for their good memories, beautiful images, or apt messages.  She was lucky to be able to wear T-shirts to work, often with shorts.  Click on the small image to see a more detailed photo of one of the quilts.

Poem

As part of the grieving process, Les wrote his first ever poem: a haiku that captures the essence of Julie's qualities.  It's in Esperanto, a language Julie introduced to us, was important to her during her college years, and which has greatly enriched our own lives.

Julie

Floroj burĝonas
Fluas rivero pura,
Bestetoj ludas.

—Les Kerr (2007)

 

Translation

Les & Arlyn Kerr