Walter L. Kerley Jr., 78, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY — Walter L. Kerley Jr., 78, of Watertown, NY, passed away Jan. 11, 2018, with family by his side in Zephyrhills, Florida.

Walter was born in Oswego, NY, on March 22, 1939, the son of Mildred and Walter Kerley Sr.

In preparation for his 37 years of teaching physical education and coaching, Walter was groomed by his father through the Leaders Club of the YMCA.  He competed in several sports.  In 1955 he was YMCA Indiana State Champion in All Around Gymnastics and was a football all-star at Southside High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He attended Springfield College, a YMCA training college for physical education, won a gymnastics scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi and received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State in 1959.

He took a job as YMCA Physical Director from 1960 to 1868 in Indiana and Adrian, Michigan where he met his wife, Beth Porter of Watertown, New York.  They married January 26, 1969 at the First Methodist Church in Watertown.  He earned his master’s degree from Central Michigan University in 1970 and began teaching public school physical education and coaching in Mecosta, Michigan.

He transferred to Watertown Public Schools in 1971 where he taught and coached Varsity Gymnastics and Softball.  He was certified in First Aid and swimming, taught thousands of children to swim and recertified the staff.  He retired June of 1997.  Walter was well respected for his teaching excellence by both students and peers.

Walter was active in his community through his church and the Masons.  He accepted Christ as a teen, and was an active member of the First United Methodist Church for 46 years.  In 1971 he joined the Watertown Masonic Lodge #49, was a member of the Scottish Rite, the Shriners and later Dexter Lodge # 1072.  He received the Meritorious Service Award for Community Service, leadership in the Masonic Bodies, participation in the Child ID program, and support for Dyslexia Learning Center, Heart Research Center and Shriners Hospitals for Children.  He was well known for his ability to memorize and recite Masonic ritual, his quick wit and dry sense of humor and loved a good debate.

Walter loved nature and outdoor sports, especially hunting and fishing.  His passion for Country Music is best summarized by his love for Waylon, Willy and the Boys, listening to Classic Country and of course dancing with his wife.  He was physically active, faithfully attended his children’s’ sporting events and enjoyed their success.  After retirement, he loved traveling, visiting his children and spending winters in Florida as a “snowbird”.

Walter was predeceased in death by his mother and father.  He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Beth Porter Kerley; his brother William C. Kerley and his wife Carolyn of Fort Wayne, IN; his five children: Walter L. Kerley 111 and his wife Lina of Mexico, Ames E. Kerley and his wife Kimberly of Kiln, MS., Lucas W. Kerley and his wife Jacquelyn of Maurnelle, AR, Sarah R. Stephens and her husband Curtis of Concord, NC, and Marla B. Kerley of Watertown, NY.  He has nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren whom he dearly loved.  He will be greatly missed by his students, friends and family.

A “Celebration of Life” service will be held 4 p.m. July 28 at the First United Church of Watertown , 236 Mullin St. with a Masonic Service to be included.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children at www.shrinershospitals

Local arrangements are with Johnson Funeral Home, Dexter.

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