The City of Weyburn honoured one of its long-term employees on August 12 by renaming the facility they built after him.
The pilot’s lounge at the airport in North Weyburn was named after Tom Kerr, who passed away earlier this year, in a ribbon cutting ceremony with coffee and cake. A green and gold placard with his name now stands above the door to the pilot’s lounge.
City officials, and his family were there, along with other pilots, to give speeches and mark the occasion.
“It’s wonderful to know his name will be above that door because his spirit certainly is, for sure,” said Maureen Miller, Tom Kerr’s daughter. Miller said her father was the bashful type who, were he still alive, would have been standing quietly at the back of the crowd. “There is a mix of surprise, yet it sounds like something that Weyburn would do.”
“Mr. Kerr had a legacy here,” said Dick Michel, a Weyburn city councillor. “He was very soft spoken, but when he did speak, you listened and there was value at the end. He was totally respected.”
Looking around the overflowing parking area at the airport, Michel also commented that he thought there was a very good turn out for the event and that it proved that Tom touched a lot of people.
“We used to spend a lot of time here, so it was nice to have a lounge named after him,” said Gord Kerr, son of Tom. “It was like his second home.”
“This is a wonderful tribute to him,” said Rick Kerr, also a son of Tom. “He was here darn near every morning.”
Tom worked for the city in a number of different roles for 34 years. For 24 of those years he was the fire chief and he also managed the airport for 20 years, beginning in 1993.
Besides working for the city, he also was a dispatcher for the provincial Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association from 1986 to 2005.
“He had a good couple of crews organized and as soon as he’d call us, we’d get out there and go take part in the search,” said Don Goranson, who flew planes alongside Kerr. The Weyburn and area search and rescue crews saved a few people while Kerr was in charge.
Most of them were elderly residents with dementia who had wondered out of their homes.
Tom also helped organize the Flatlanders 5, a formation flying squad who performed in the area. Wayne “Doc” Squires, Keith Sprecken, Earl Kickley and Bob Elliot flew formations with Tom.
Tom brought his sons, Rick, Gord, and George, out to the airport beginning in 1989 to help him build more hangars and the lounge. Gord said some of his strongest memories are of helping hold a hangar door in place during construction and banging his fingers, he said with a chuckle. Gord also remembers his father flying him around the province and dropping in on various pancake breakfasts. Now Gord’s son, Trevor, wants to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and is very active in the air cadets. “He’s a plane fanatic,” he said.
“He was an asset to the Weyburn airport and he would be very pleased to see what we’re going to continue to do to the space out here to improve hangars and make it worthy for the Weyburn and surrounding area,” said Michel.