Pool World loses Joe Kerr

Joe Kerr

Long-time tournament director and player Joe Kerr passed away early Sunday morning of Myasthenia Gravis. Mr. Kerr graduated from the University of Akron, majoring in Marketing and Communication, which would serve him well in later years. Joe began playing pool in 1977 and practiced four hours each day both at pool and table tennis. He soon became proficient enough to become resident pro at Starchers Recreation in Akron. He went on to become a pool player, table-tennis player, author, promoter and director. He made his love of pool into a realized dream of a lucrative profession in the sport. He joined the Professional Billiard Tour Association (PBTA) and captured the 1983 Detroit Open tournament and later the 1985 Challenge Cup at Canton's own Hall of Fame Lanes. He made a name for himself as "Akron Joey" and later "The Joker" for his business, Joker Promotions. He promoted and directed over 250 major professional national and international events. He wrote for the National Billiard News as well as the Pool and Billiard Magazine. He was Tour coordinator for the PBTA from 1991 to 1992. He was Executive Director of the Men's Professional Billiard's association from 1988 through 1990. In 1992, he was unfortunately stricken with Myasthenia Gravis disease. Below we offer some words from those who knew him best:
"Joe goes back a long way. He was the TD for the pros in the 80's. Joe was the honest TD that everyone called when they had a tournament. He was really good and a real nice fellow. He was always right there trying to help the pros get organized, always willing to donate his time. He was a stickler for the rules. If you forfeited a match, you forfeited that match, you could not wiggle out of it with Joe.  One of the last times I was with him we played golf together, man this is a shame. He will be very badly missed."  Allen Hopkins.
"He really was one of the best promoters we had of all time. He was in that era when we had 15 or 16 events a year and was one of the ones who gave pool such promise back then. He was Executive Director of the MPBA and was a huge force behind that organization. His efforts got him inducted into the Canton Sports Hall of Fame and he certainly deserved the honor. He was a guy who wore many hats, TD'ing, raising sponsorships, just whatever needed to be done. I remember in 1989 when I won all those tournaments it was Joe who usually handed me the checks. I used to kid him each time he gave me one that he needed to get back to work to raise some more money for me. I often wonder where pool might have gotten to today if Joe had not fallen ill."– Nick Varner.

He helped to start my career off when I was 20. A friend of mine in Holland did some work with him in '90 and called him up to ask if I could come over. Joe said'Yeah, send the kid over and we'll take a look at him'. Went to him two weeks later without ever meeting him. He set up all the games for me and we had a great time. That same year in '97 we did his last ever roadtrip in September, which he loved. He saw all his old friends again at the US Open and Myrtle Beach tournaments. He was loving it. It was tough on him and he couldn't go out after that anymore, but I'm sure he had a blast." - Niels Feijen

Joe was my friend and we talked on the phone regularly. A few weeks ago, Joe knew he was in trouble and he accepted it without feeling sorry for himself. I was with him in 1989 when he had his first serious bout with Myasthenia Gravis at Starchers Billiards in Akron, Ohio. I remember he was unable to speak clearly and asked me to announce the matches for him. A few months later, he nearly died and what he had to endure during his rehabilitation was unimaginable. He could not be touched without him feeling pain. Despite this, his spirits were always high and even then, he never lost his sense of humor.

In the 1980's, Joe was as well known as anybody in the billiard community. He was very likable and was everybody's friend. He had such an infectious laugh.

Joe was an experienced promoter and tournament director and played a pretty good game of pool as well. We co-directed many tournaments. He was a tireless worker.

As a director of the MPBA or as a tournament director, he was always prepared when faced with controversy. He was a take charge guy when you wanted one. He was never overpowering in his position as Executive Director but he would make his point and his decisions were well respected.

He will be remembered by many. - Pat Fleming