Agnes Grace Kerber

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Born: November 04, 1925

Died: April 20, 2011

Services: Our Lady HelpOf Christians RC Church Friday May 6,2011 11:00am


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Longtime Staten Islander Agnes Grace Kerber, 85, of Tottenville, a retired special-education teacher who dedicated herself to the preservation of the Island’s natural areas, died April 20 at home.

Born Agnes Grace Weldon in Jersey City, she was brought to Kreischerville, now called Charleston, as a young child. Mrs. Kerber also lived in Tottenville before relocating to Pleasant Plains, where she lived for 48 years. She returned to Tottenville in 1990 and recently moved into the historic Baxter House, which overlooks the waters of the Arthur Kill.

Mrs. Kerber graduated from Tottenville High School and subsequently worked in various capacities at a doctor’s office in Perth Amboy; the former Bethlehem Steel in Mariners Harbor; Our Lady Help of Christians R.C. Church in Tottenville, and Mount Loretto in Pleasant Plains.

In 1944, in the midst of World War II, she married George Kerber, an officer with the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Mrs. Kerber began her 32-year career with the former city Board of Education in the late 1950s. She began as a school aide at PS 3 in Pleasant Plains and then became a paraprofessional.

At the age of 43, Mrs. Kerber returned to school and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the College of Staten Island.

She continued working as a special-education teacher at PS 3 and also worked at PS 19 in West Brighton, PS 20 in Port Richmond and PS 57 in Clifton, from which she retired around 1990. During her tenure as teacher, Mrs. Kerber worked with children who had physical, emotional and neurological disabilities.

While working in education, Mrs. Kerber was also an eight-year member of the South Shore’s Community Board 3, serving on its executive board and chairing the Land Use committee. She was a strong voice for the preservation of the Island’s natural areas and was known for her tireless work to preserve Lemon Creek Park and Mount Loretto.

Faith, family and love of country are what directed her in life, her daughters said, and Mrs. Kerber was especially proud of her Irish roots. She taught Irish history and dancing; wrote limericks, and enjoyed the Irish tradition of storytelling.

Mrs. Kerber was also accomplished in handiwork and made clothes for both people and dolls and also knew how to crochet, knit, do crewel work and needlepoint along with the art of tatting lace. Always a perfectionist, she even made her daughters’ wedding dresses, her family recalled.

An avid reader, Mrs. Kerber enjoyed listening to music, singing, ballroom dancing and gardening. Active on the computer, she corresponded with friends around the world.

Mrs. Kerber was also an excellent cook, her family said, and rewarded every favor with her famous cheesecakes.

“She had a childlike curiosity, quick wit and generous spirit — an ‘amazing’ woman,” said her daughter, Susan Hanan, pointing to her mother’s nickname of “Amazing Grace.”

Mrs. Kerber was a longtime parishioner of Our Lady Help of Christians Church.

In addition to her daughter, Susan, and her husband of 67 years, George, surviving are her two daughters, Carol Kerber and Linda Greiner, and three grandchildren.

A memorial mass will be held Friday at 11 a.m. in Our Lady Help of Christians Church. Arrangements, including cremation, were handled by the Bedell-Pizzo Funeral Home, Tottenville.

Cemetery: Rosehill Crematory (Map)

Location: Bedell-Pizzo Funeral Home (Map)