University of Lethbridge receives unique donation

Dr. Kathleen Kerr, better known as Kay has donated more than 100 years worth of sentimental collectables. Kerr donated virtually all the belongings of her three-storey home to the theatre department at the University of Lethbridge before moving into a seniors lodge in Blairmore, Alberta.

“I’m grateful to Kay for offering this to us. She could have easily put it all up for auction and given the profit to her children. But she wanted to see it used. And she knows we’ll give it a good home. She recognized the value of what we do here, and we’re thankful,” says James McDowell, the technical director for the U of L theatre.

McDowell says the collectables are very unique given the rich life history of Kerr. Many of them are original KFC memorabilia.

Kerr and her husband married in 1939 just a few days before Canada joined the Second World War. They went on to own four Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. She even developed the gravy recipe still used by the chicken chain today and once stayed at the home of Colonel sanders himself.

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“People ask me if I was sad to see everything go, but as far as the stuff is concerned, I really don’t miss it,” says Kerr. “I think it’s just wonderful that my things will be used in a new way. It will just keep on giving, and that’s the best.”

Although she and Jack travelled the world, they made their home amidst the mountains in the Crowsnest Pass where they ran the legendary Turtle Mountain Hotel in Frank, Alberta. She she has received numerous accolades over the years including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and an honorary degree from the University of Lethbridge.

Among the collectables gifted to the University are: German-crafted wardrobes, a long cigarette holder kept in a roll top desk, an intricate Arctic oosik (made from the bone of a walrus penis), a cup and saucer received as a wedding gift, boxes of KFC memorabilia, a K-Tell plug-in coffee maker for your car (still pristine in its box), a red velvet couch and a vintage camera.

Some of the items have already appeared in the school’s production of ‘Courting Johanna’.

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