SAN FRANCISCO—The Krouzian-Zekarian Vasbouragan School will welcome the head coach of the Golden State Warriors basketball team, Steve Kerr, as guest speaker at its 38th annual gala on February 9.
Kerr will accept an award on behalf of his family for their contributions to the Armenian people. Kerr’s grandparents, the late Dr. Stanley E. Kerr and Elsa Reckman Kerr were instrumental in establishing the Near East Relief, the unprecedented American campaign of international humanitarian assistance which saved and sustained hundreds of thousands of Armenian Genocide survivors from 1915-1930.
“We are excited and honored to have Coach Steve Kerr and the Kerr family attend the KZV Gala,” said KZV’s principal, Grace Andonian. “The sacrifice that Stanley and Elsa Kerr made during the Armenian Genocide is greatly appreciated by the Armenian community. One hundred years after the Armenian Genocide, KZV is an example of the vibrant Armenian community that thrives around the world.”
As an introduction to the award presentation to Coach Kerr, documentary filmmaker Ani Hovannisian-Kevorkian will show excerpts from a documentary about the Kerr family currently in production.
In 1919, Stanley Kerr, a junior officer with the United States Medical Corps, was transferred to Marash, Turkey, where he headed the American relief operations and assisted thousands of Armenians threatened with further genocide by the Turkish government after the French military retreated from its post-war occupation of the city. In 1922, Kerr met his wife Elsa in Marash, where she worked as a schoolteacher. They later married in Beirut, Lebanon, where they ran a Near East Relief orphanage for Armenian children.
Kerr later earned a Ph.D in biochemistry and became the chair of the biology department at the American University of Beirut. Else took the position of dean of women at the university. Stanley Kerr retired with the rank of Distinguished Professor and was awarded the Order of Merit from the Republic of Lebanon. He passed away in 1976 and left as part of his legacy, The Lions of Marash: Personal Experiences with American Near East Relief, 1919-1922 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1973), a memoir documenting his eye-witness accounts of the Armenian Genocide.
The legacy of Dr. Stanley and Elsa Kerr was passed down to their children and grandchildren, who have continued to live by the humanitarian values of their parents and grandparents. Their oldest son was the late Malcolm H. Kerr, who was born in Lebanon in 1931 and married his wife Ann Zwicker Kerr there. They became parents to four children, including Coach Steve Kerr and his older brother John Kerr, who continues his grandparents’ mission by serving on the current board of the Near East Foundation. Their daughter Susan van de Ven used letters from her grandparents as the basis of her thesis at Oberlin College, later presenting it at the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem on the occasion of the 1986 commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
As Northern California’s only Armenian day school, KZV Armenian School’s mission is to prepare its students to become leaders, rooted with a deep awareness of their role as Armenian-Americans. KZV believes that an early bilingual and multicultural education provides a strong foundation for a lifetime of academic and professional excellence.
The 38th annual KZV Gala will take place on February 9th at 6:00 pm, at Khatchaturian Armenian Community Center- Saroyan Hall.