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Fentress Mortuary

1805 North A Street, Fort Smith, AR

OBITUARY

William G. "Jerry" Kerwin, Jr.

July 29, 1923November 23, 2019
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William Gerald “Jerry” Kerwin, Jr., 96, of Fort Smith, died Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Mercy Hospital. Born in Fort Smith on July 29, 1923, to William Gerald Kerwin, Sr. and Alta Theurer Kerwin, Jerry was a member of St. Boniface Catholic Church. After serving in World War II, he finished his business degree at the University of Arkansas.

Jerry was a man dedicated to serving his family, his community, and his country. He was the devoted caregiver of his mother for many years. A sixty-year member of the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors, he helped the organization become a prime server of youth in our city offering sports programs of quality like the Golden Gloves, Babe Ruth Baseball, American Legion Baseball, grade school football and basketball, and AAU swimming meets. He mentored other clubs in Paris, Greenwood, and Van Buren as they sought to expand their programs and facilities.

Jerry was the former owner of Kerwin Sporting Goods at 707 Garrison Avenue, which was begun by his grandfather, John Kerwin, in the 1890’s, as a saddlery shop. It was a favorite place to go to experience a unique ambiance of wood and leather gathered from premium luggage, every type of ball, gloves and shoes, caps and bats, sports equipment of every kind and the memorable creaking floors. Customers might be treated to an inside baseball conversation with store employee Lawrence “Squeaky” Smith, famed coach of Kerwin’s Sportsmen, the American Legion Baseball team Jerry sponsored for 41 years. Jerry’s Optimist midget league team that he coached for thirty years often won the league championship and always showed the sportsmanship and fair play that the coach taught. Those many players and parents remember the time on his team with great fondness and as a great part of their life learning experience.

Jerry, a U.S. Navy officer in the Pacific Theater of World War II, loved to play bridge, read a good book, attend Friday night games, play a role in a Little Theater performance, enjoy a game of golf, watch endless sports events on TV, and spend time with his friends at Angelo’s/Papa’s or drinking coffee.

Jerry is survived by his nieces, Patty Hudson (James), Jeanne McKinnis (Craig), and Kathy Huebner; as well as his nephews, Stephen Breard (Kathy) and Bill Breard (Phyllis). Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; and two sisters, Pat Kerwin Savelle and Jeanne Kerwin Breard.

Visitation will be Friday, November 29, from 5-7 pm at Fentress Mortuary. Funeral mass will be at 10 am Saturday, November 30, at St. Boniface Catholic Church, with graveside to follow at Calvary Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club, 4905 North O Street, Fort Smith, AR 72904.

  • FAMILY

  • Alta Theurer Kerwin, Mother (deceased)
  • William Gerald Kerwin, Sr., Father (deceased)
  • Patty Hudson and husband James, Niece
  • Jeanne McKinnis and husband Craig, Niece
  • Kathy Huebner, Niece
  • Stephen Breard and wife Kathy, Nephew
  • Bill Breard and wife Phyllis, Nephew
  • Pat Kerwin Savelle, Sister (deceased)
  • Jeanne Kerwin Breard, Sister (deceased)
  • DONATIONS

  • Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club

Services

  • Visitation Friday, November 29, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Saturday, November 30, 2019

Memories

William G. "Jerry" Kerwin, Jr.

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Steve Breard

November 29, 2019

The end of generation; the end of an era.
My fondest memories of him are his love of baseball and him with his boxers that he treated like his babies. He was that very rare individual that seemed to live life exactly as he wanted and on his own terms. It was neat to see.
Goodbye to Uncle Jerry.

James Wagoner

November 29, 2019

Jerry Kerwin was a longtime friend of many years. From coaching at the Boys Club to serving with him on the Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors, he was always a well respected man and made me feel welcome. We would share rides to the meetings and visit during those times. He built quite a legacy and will be missed greatly.

Gunner Furr

November 28, 2019

Gunner Furr

November 28, 2019

Jerry and I became good friends when i worked at Butterfield over the last few months. I am a server there and I love all of my residents. I fell especially in love with Jerry because he was such a simple man, always sat by himself and kept to himself and was always taking a nap. Whenever I asked jerry what he wanted to eat, every single time, it was “Uhh whatever ya got!” and every time I brought him his meal or drink, “Uhh Thank You sir!” I adored Jerry and wanted to know more about him. One night he rolled into the dining room about 8:30pm (very late for these folks! lol) he came and sat down in his spot. I got him some coffee and decided to sit down with him and talk. I asked him what he did in his life and he told me he owner Kerwins Sporting Goods and other things about his long life. Jerry became my main excitement for coming to work today. Everyday coming in and giving him a firm handshake was what I looked forward to at work. I was distraught when I found Jerry was moving from Butterfield. But i didnt let it stop me from seeing him. I went and visited him at Baptist Health and then at Chapel Ridge. I loved to bring the boys by and talk and visit with Jerry! On Jerrys birthday a few months ago, I brought the boys to come visit Jerry and bring some gifts for him. Parker brought him a Southside Rebel sweatshirt for him to keep because Jerry was a big fan of “the rebelsssss!” i brought him some binoculars and little pieces of paper that said “someone is praying for you” Jerry was so excited for the gifts we brought him and thanked us very much and told us the prayer gift was the most important of them all to him. When I found out about Jerrys passing, i was devastated, but also happy for him. The good Lord couldn’t handle not having his sweet soul anymore. And Jerry is finally with his family up there. What an incredible impact Jerry had on this 16/17 year old boy. My condolences and prayers are with the family and friends.

Stan McDaniel

November 27, 2019

So sorry to hear of Coach’s passing. Thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family. Jerry was without question, one of the finest gentlemen I ever met. Oh, how I remember the store! Could swap stories with he and Squeaky for hours. The smell of leather and Needs Foot Oil used to soften the leather of your new Wilson A2000 and form to your liking. Rummage through the bats until you found the right Nellie Fox or Hank Aaron model. The old wood floor worn and scarred by players cleats worn into the store.
I had the honor and privilege to play for Jerry on his ‘64 and ‘65 Optimist Midget League team. He would give each player a ball showing the teams accomplishments for the season. ‘65 was particularly fun; 38-0 and winning three post season tournaments. That team wasn’t very liked by the folks playing Church League ball! I’ve kept that ‘65 ball and remember the miniature bats they’d give you? Here’s pics of that team. So many nights at Lions Club Park.
Jerry you are going to be missed by so many whose lives you’ve touched.
God Bless

Louise Finney

November 26, 2019

I always enjoyed hearing about Patty’s remarkable, unforgettable Uncle Jerry. What fun he must have been and what a profound positivity he bestowed on our area. I wish I could have known him better. It is my great joy to know of the Kerwin family through my friendship with Patty and James. My kindest thoughts and prayers are with all of you now.

Brian Yocum

November 26, 2019

My dad, and I, bought my first ball glove at Kerwin's. That place had a nostalgia, that made you feel like you were owning a piece of sports history. I miss, that store, and Sports Cards, Inc., so much.

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Biography

William Gerald “Jerry” Kerwin, Jr., 96, of Fort Smith, died Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Mercy Hospital. Born in Fort Smith on July 29, 1923, to William Gerald Kerwin, Sr. and Alta Theurer Kerwin, Jerry was a member of St. Boniface Catholic Church. After serving in World War II, he finished his business degree at the University of Arkansas.

Jerry was a man dedicated to serving his family, his community, and his country. He was the devoted caregiver of his mother for many years. A sixty-year member of the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors, he helped the organization become a prime server of youth in our city offering sports programs of quality like the Golden Gloves, Babe Ruth Baseball, American Legion Baseball, grade school football and basketball, and AAU swimming meets. He mentored other clubs in Paris, Greenwood, and Van Buren as they sought to expand their programs and facilities.

Jerry was the former owner of Kerwin Sporting Goods at 707 Garrison Avenue, which was begun by his grandfather, John Kerwin, in the 1890’s, as a saddlery shop. It was a favorite place to go to experience a unique ambiance of wood and leather gathered from premium luggage, every type of ball, gloves and shoes, caps and bats, sports equipment of every kind and the memorable creaking floors. Customers might be treated to an inside baseball conversation with store employee Lawrence “Squeaky” Smith, famed coach of Kerwin’s Sportsmen, the American Legion Baseball team Jerry sponsored for 41 years. Jerry’s Optimist midget league team that he coached for thirty years often won the league championship and always showed the sportsmanship and fair play that the coach taught. Those many players and parents remember the time on his team with great fondness and as a great part of their life learning experience.

Jerry, a U.S. Navy officer in the Pacific Theater of World War II, loved to play bridge, read a good book, attend Friday night games, play a role in a Little Theater performance, enjoy a game of golf, watch endless sports events on TV, and spend time with his friends at Angelo’s/Papa’s or drinking coffee.

Jerry is survived by his nieces, Patty Hudson (James), Jeanne McKinnis (Craig), and Kathy Huebner; as well as his nephews, Stephen Breard (Kathy) and Bill Breard (Phyllis). Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; and two sisters, Pat Kerwin Savelle and Jeanne Kerwin Breard.

Visitation will be Friday, November 29, from 5-7 pm at Fentress Mortuary. Funeral mass will be at 10 am Saturday, November 30, at St. Boniface Catholic Church, with graveside to follow at Calvary Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club, 4905 North O Street, Fort Smith, AR 72904.