A relentless volunteer and a businessman who believes “being blessed means you have to be a blessing to others” were honored Tuesday as the 2016 Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year.
Joyce Kerr, 90, a war bride who came to Kennewick with her physician husband in 1949 because the community needed a doctor, and Dave Retter, 62, founder and owner of Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty, were recognized for their countless contributions to Kennewick and the Tri-Cities.
Kennewick Woman of the Year is sponsored by Soroptimist International of Pasco and Kennewick and dates to 1948 while the Man of the Year award is presented by the Men of the Year Club and dates to 1946.
Kennewick Woman of the Year
Joyce Kerr’s civic résumé reads like a post-war history of the Tri-Cities. She was nominated by her daughter-in-law, Nancy Kerr, herself a former Kennewick Woman of the Year (1993).
Joyce Kerr and her husband, the late Dr. Raymond Kerr, came to Washington when he was a Navy physician during World War II. They made Kennewick their home after the war ended. She raised six children and threw herself into every aspect of the community, from education and church to medical and social.
While Raymond Kerr commuted to Pasco via ferry to visit patients at Our Lady of Lourdes, she worked to build Kennewick’s first hospital. She was instrumental in creating the Tri-Cities Cancer Center and served as a guardian ad litem for children in state custody.
She spearheaded local emergency preparedness efforts during the Cold War. After the Vietnam War, she aided local refugees.
For the two decades her children were in school, she was a reliable hand in Kennewick classrooms, leading PTA efforts, sewing costumes, decorating and chaperoning events and raising funds for marching band, among others.
She is the oldest and longest-serving volunteer with Team Read, leading to a front page feature in the Herald in 2015. She is also, her daughter-in-law notes, an accomplished singer and seamstress, and a ventriloquist who shares her talents at assisted living facilities.
Kennewick Man of the Year
Dave Retter began his real estate career in 1979 and formed a real estate firm with the late Harold Thompson in 1992. A year later, they brought the Windermere brand to the Tri-Cities.
Now the area’s largest firm, he switched affiliations to Sotheby’s in November.
He was nominated by Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg , Sun Pacific Energy CEO Craig Eerkes, former Tri-Citian of the Year Ron Hue and Dr. Rod Coler, who say Retter freely shares his success with his community.
He supports a large number of nonprofits and community-oriented events. Notably, he sponsors the Broadway-style theater configuration at the Toyota Center Arena, now branded the Retter & Company Theater.
He supports efforts to equip children with back-to-school backpacks and supports the Please Don’t Quit program at Columbia Basin College.
He supports the Kennewick Police Department’s Community care program, which aids people and families in crisis. And the Catholic Family Services, Elija House, Boys and Girls Club, Domestic Violence Services, Safe Harbor Crisis Center, Hospice House and Tri-City Chaplaincy are all beneficiaries of his support.
He is actively involved in most of the community’s business associations as well, including the Tri-City Development Council, the Home Builders Association, the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
He is married to Diane and has two children, three stepchildren and numerous grandchildren.
A full list of past honorees is at kmwoy.com.