The 2021 class of Betty Jean Kerr Scholarship recipients was recently honored during a ceremony at People's Lacy Clay Center for Children's Health.
Kerr joined People’s Health Centers in 1975, three years after it was founded in a storefront on Kingsbury and Des Peres in University City. She was instrumental in its expansion throughout the St. Louis community. There are now three sites with over 200 staffers, including doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, and mental health counselors.
Kerr was honored as a Lifetime Achiever for Excellence in Health Care in 2004 by the St. Louis American Foundation. When she retired in 2007, the center changed its name to Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers and created a scholarship foundation in her honor. Her son, Dwayne Butler, was named her successor as CEO.
Kerr passed on Sept. 12, 2020, at the age of 82.
“She spent her life fighting to serve the health needs of the underserved community with the dignity and respect that all lives deserve. She became a CEO and great community activist, but she never described herself as anything other than a nurse. Her commitment and resolve to serve her community were beyond special.”
He said donations to the scholarship foundation “not only support the indelible legacy of Betty Jean Kerr but, more importantly, support the aspiration and educational dreams of our future health care leaders and advocates for health care equity in our underserved communities.”