June 30 will be a special day for the family of Imogene Kerr. Not only will they be gathering to celebrate her 100th birthday, they will also be looking back at the many memories and accolades the adventurous entrepreneur has accumulated over her lifetime.
Imogene (Imo) was born and raised in White Oak, except for attending Cambridge school, grades one-four. She graduated from White Oak in 1934. The White Oak girls’ basketball team went to the state tournament that year and Imogene was named second team all-state.
Following graduation, she and her grandmother traveled to California, where she would meet and eventually marry fellow Iowan, Ivan Kerr. It was in Los Angeles where their son, Ivan Gene, was born. They returned to Iowa to be pig farmers near Collins.
The pig farm didn’t work out well, so the young family opened “Kerrville,” a restaurant and gas station north of Ankeny. Imogene ran the small café and manned the gas pumps while Ivan delivered fuel oil. Their second child, Linda, was born during this time.
In 1945, she and Ivan bought a larger restaurant in Cambridge and moved into the apartment above it. There they welcomed their third child, Rhonda. In 1950, the Kerrs also took over the ownership of the Cambridge Theater.
In 1953 Ivan died of lung cancer, leaving Imogene to raise three children. She would run Kerr Café for a total of 41 years of continuous operation. It became the “hub of the town,” Imogene once recalled, “it was a place for families and kids to come to.”
Imogene also owned and operated a small resort in Rockaway Beach, Mo., seven miles from Branson, from 1972 to 1993, retiring at age 76.
The café closed in 1986 and the building was demolished. Fittingly, the new Cambridge Community Building is being built where Kerr Café once stood.
There are currently five generations of loving family, including the three children, four granddaughters, eight great-grandchildren, nine great-great grandchildren, with one on the way. Her sister, Phyllis McHone Kahler, will also be among the celebrants.
Son, Ivan G. Kerr, lives in Walnut Creek, Calif.; daughters Linda Kerr and Rhonda Bagley live in Cambridge.
The family is not planning a formal birthday party, but anyone who would like to stop by to wish Imogene a happy birthday is invited to do so. She is a resident of the Story Senior Medical Center, 630 6th St., Nevada.
A card shower is planned. Please send cards to: Imogene Kerr, Story Senior Medical Center, 630 6th St., Nevada, IA 50201.