Bob Kerr

As we near Thanksgiving Day, it is, of course, a time to give thanks for good friends and food, for the time to take stock of the things that matter. Rhode Island Public Radio commentator Bob Kerr likes to make a list of things he’s thankful for. He finds it’s a healthy exercise, and the good things come into sharper focus each year.

Bob Kerr began the tradition of a Thanksgiving list during his long tenure as a newspaper columnist. You can find more of his musings about life and Rhode Island at our website,

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Public Radio columnist Bob Kerr, who spent two years in the Marines in the 1960's, reflects on the shootings at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. One of the victims, Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan of Massachusetts, will be laid to rest on Tuesday.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

My friends Joe Labriola and Mike Skinner did the Walk for Hunger a few weeks back. They have done the walk before. They have done walks for Toys For Tots too. They have a problem with people going without in the richest country on earth.

For more than 40 years, Bob Kerr worked at the Providence Journal, where he was beloved by many readers for his columns about the people and the issues that animate Rhode Island. Recently, he’s been thinking back on his time at the ProJo.

Hilary Horton was my editor when I wrote the local column in the Providence Journal 20 years ago.  We would get together in the late afternoon, looking for the better word, cleaning up the clutter, finding what the heck I was trying to say.  The column was always the better for it.

The Golden Age Grease Caper gives us hope - at least those of us who are closing in on that rock solid verification of old age, that sure fire boarding pass for the bus to Foxwoods and the complimentary roll of quarters.

The Golden Age Grease caper provides one of those cherished, you’re-never-too-old moments that can be warmly, eagerly embraced as a ringing geezer declaration of independence. 

Personally, I’m taking it as irrefutable proof that 70 is the new 65.        

In late August, the power was shut off at the River United Methodist Church. The church, in the heart of downtown Woonsocket, was about a thousand bucks in arrears on its electric bill.  The guy from National Grid apologized for doing what he had to do.

Church members, who specialize in doing a whole lot with very little, scrambled to do what they always do.   They took food from freezers and refrigerators and headed to a nearby park to feed hungry people. 


Veterans are more complete citizens, I think.  We hold our country closer,  and we know our country better for having gotten on the bus and gone to boot camp and earned the right to train and fight, get scared and get drunk with the richest mix of Americans to be found anywhere.

I remember the farm kids and the ghetto kids and the kids gone to the Marines instead of prison.  I remember the kids like me who wanted to break from college-bred predictability and take a mad leap into the unknown.   Some of us were looking for our hard side and found we didn’t have one.

A great fun time was had by all last night at the Fund for Community Progress event honoring longtime Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr.  The time was held at the Pearl Restaurant on Charles Street in Providence.

Several hundred retired and still-working journalists jammed a function room at Pearl for an evening of humor and tributes to Kerr, who was fired by the ProJo in the latest round of job cuts by the newspaper’s new owners, an arm of the Gatehouse media empire.

The Fund for Community Progress is hosting a `Toast’ to former Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr for his 43 years of outstanding journalism and service to the southeastern New England community.

The event is scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Pearl Restaurant and Lounge at 393 Charles Street in Providence. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and has a suggested donation of $25 to the Fund for Community Progress.

Bob Kerr's Final Column

Sep 5, 2014
Catherine Welch / RIPR

This week The Providence Journal laid off at least 22 employees as it switched hands from AH Belo Corporation to New Media Investment Group. One of the newsroom staffers let go was columnist Bob Kerr who had worked at the paper for 43 years, spending almost half of that time writing a column that ran three times a week.

Kerr was escorted out the door on Tuesday and wasn’t able to write a final column. So we extended an invitation for him to say good-bye to the Rhode Islanders who read his column week after week, year after year.

Bob Kerr, the Providence Journal’s eloquent everyman and the newspaper’s marquee columnist for more than two decades, has been laid off by the ProJo’s new owners, the New Media Investment Group.

Instead of letting him retire gracefully, the new owners fired the newspaper’s heart and soul  in a particularly callous manner  - in a personnel meeting that Kerr described as ``pretty cold and abrupt.’’

Richard Walton was a huge presence in our small state for more than a half century. A writer, journalist, teacher and political activist, Walton, of Warwick, was a leader in so many campaigns for peace and social justice that even his friends and fellow activists could barely keep count.