Glass company executive,
Westmont College trustee
William Kerr, 95, a longtime executive at Los Angeles-based Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corp. and a trustee at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, died of congestive heart failure Nov. 5 at an assisted-living facility in Van Nuys, a school spokesman said. He had lived in Encino.
Kerr had served as president, chairman and chief executive of Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corp., the company famous for its mason jars for home canning, from 1967 until the early 1980s. His father, Alexander H. Kerr, founded the company in Portland, Ore., in 1903 and moved it to Los Angeles in 1920. The elder Kerr died in 1925, and Kerr's mother, Ruth Kerr, ran the business until her death in 1967.
Bill Kerr was known in the glass container business for developing the twist-off bottle cap and then taking the unusual step of sharing the innovation with other glass bottle manufacturers. He had concluded that glass manufacturers as a whole could then better compete with aluminum can makers, who had gained an edge with the pop-top opening.
In 1973, Kerr became a trustee at Westmont, a Christian liberal arts college co-founded by his mother in Los Angeles in 1937. It moved to Santa Barbara in 1945. Over the years, Kerr made substantial gifts to Westmont through the A.H. Kerr Foundation.
Born Jan 5, 1915, in Pasadena, Kerr graduated from USC in 1936 and became a pilot for TWA and Northrop Aircraft Co. He took on an executive position in the family business in 1957.
— Los Angeles Times staff reports