A lot of people do great things for our community.
Many of them are unsung heroes whose service ranks high above personal accolades.
But a few are singled out each year for attention by area service groups. These are the folks who have done so much that they have to be acknowledged, like it or not.
The honors of Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year go to those who make service their priority for a lifetime.
This year’s honorees are a businessman with a propensity for giving back and a woman who has volunteered tirelessly since her first days in Kennewick nearly 70 years ago.
Joyce Kerr, now 90, was a war bride married to a physician and new to the community in 1949 when health care was hard to come by. Her husband commuted by ferry across the Columbia River to Our Lady of Lourdes. When the river was flooded, he was stranded. Kerr saw the need for a hospital in Kennewick and set about helping develop Kennewick General Hospital.
Through the years, Kerr has seen a lot. She has watched Kennewick and the surrounding area evolve. She pitched in where she saw a need. She has served as a guardian ad litem, spearheaded emergency preparedness efforts during the Cold War and assisted local refugees after the Vietnam War and long before it was trendy.
Kerr was vital to the development of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, and as a mother of six, held a special place in her heart for the schools of Kennewick. She has been involved in the PTA and sewn costumes for school plays. She is the longest serving and oldest volunteer with the district tutoring program, Team Read.
An accomplished seamstress, Kerr has created and donated many a quilt to charities. She is also a singer and ventriloquist, and has brought those talents to cheer up folks living in assisted living facilities.
Dave Retter, well-known for his work in real estate in the Tri-Cities, had a strong group of supporters nominating him for the honor, including Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg. Retter dedicates time and resources to a number of nonprofits and local events.
He recently switched affiliations with his real estate firm to Southeby’s, and that precipitated a rebranding of the Broadway-style theater configuration he sponsors at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. It’s now called the Retter & Company Theater.
Retter helps provide children with back-to-school backpacks and supports those struggling to attain a college education through Please Don’t Quit at Columbia Basin College.
Retter is also the type to see a need and try to fill it. He helped initiate the Kennewick Police Department’s Community Care program, which helps people and families in crisis. He has been involved with the 9/11 commemorations in Kennewick. He helped make the GESA Carousel of Dreams a reality.
When a local family needed a reliable vehicle to take their child to medical appointments in Seattle, Retter used his business network and resources to get them one.
His support is broad and encompasses Catholic Family Services, Elija House, Safe Harbor Crisis Center, and Hospice House and Tri-City Chaplaincy, among others.
Our community has many who do great things. And it’s always a pleasure to actually get to shine the spotlight on them when we can. Congratulations to the new Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year, Dave Retter and Joyce Kerr. We can all learn much from their service and volunteer leadership.