Six decade long business career honoured with royal medal 0
On September 6, Crowsnest Pass entrepreneur and businesswoman, Kay Kerr, was honoured with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.
In addition to her royal award, the current board involved with Community Futures Crowsnest Pass presented Kerr with an outstanding lifetime achievement award.
Before the packed ceremony commenced at York Creek Lodge, friends and former business partners referred to the proud award recipient as the foundation of Crowsnest Pass economic development.
Shane Stewart, chairman of Community Futures Crowsnest Pass, remembered his three years spent on the board with Kerr.
"It's a huge honour for me to be involved with such an icon and a leader in the Crowsnest Pass," Stewart said. "She's given such leadership and direction to our community."
The Crowsnest Pass Economic Development board started 25 years ago, with Kerr being one of the founding members.
"She always was a beacon in terms of never giving up, (she knew) we'll always find our way with hard work and elbow grease," Stewart said.
Along with the members of the current board, Stewart was excited to be able to highlight a lifetime of positive influence to the valley.
"She's been an incredibly good person and an absolute asset," he said, noting the business community would not be what it is today without her crucial work. "She left an indelible mark."
Sixty thousand Canadian residents were honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.
The award is designed to honour the contributions of volunteers and community pillars across the country. Each MP and Senator was given their allocation of medals to present across their electoral ridings.
Ted Menzies, Macleod MP, was on hand to present the award to Kay Kerr. Menzies noted that he knew Kerr previously through his work with the Lions Clubs of the region-as well as through politics.
"To be able to call someone who has done so much for this community a friend, and to be able to present her with a medal of recognition for that, that's one of the best parts of being an MP," Menzies said after the ceremony.
Standing in front of the packed audience, Menzies knew that the people who hold a community together are usually the more quiet ones working behind the scenes.
"Most people that I know who are the strong pillars who hold a community together never tell you what they've done," Menzies said.
Kay Kerr was born and raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Her first job was working as a secretary in the law office of John Diefenbaker.
In 1940, she left for the Crowsnest Pass with her husband and began a successful career in the hospitality and food industry-nearly 29 years of operating Turtle Mountain Hotel.
Interestingly, her first KFC franchise-bought in 1958-attracted the interest of Colonel Sanders himself for a milk gravy Kerr had marketed. Still to this day, Kay Kerr's famous milk gravy is used in Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets across Canada.
Lazy Kay Products Ltd. was started in 1965 and saw Kerr marketing her own line of gravies, jams, jellies and corn fritters in places such as Calgary, Edmonton and Salt Lake City.
Kerr has been the chairperson of the Crowsnest Pass Economic Development Board. In addition, she spearheaded the establishment of the Crowsnest Centre for Adult Education and was an active member of the Crowsnest Pass Symphony.
"She's always been fairly politically active," Menzies said, receiving a big laugh from the crowd. "You have pictures with how many prime ministers on your wall?"
Before receiving her award, a very proud Kay Kerr was surrounded by friends and family members. She laughed when she said she couldn't refuse a medal from the Queen.
She said she had been notified earlier this summer and was excited to have been selected.
"Some of the best years of my life were spent with the economic development board doing things, going places and getting things done," Kerr said. "It was a wonderful experience. I'm sorry to have left it."
Kerr knew she couldn't even begin to answer a question about what the previous 25 years had meant to her.
"It's just too much," she said. "It was an amazing experience, the people that we met and the things that we accomplished."