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Robert Ker Jr., 89, Former New Canaan Entrepreneur

NEW CANAAN. Conn. – Robert "Bob" Walker Ker Jr., a former longtime New Canaan resident, died May 16 at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass. He was 89.

A resident of New Canaan from 1963 to 2001, Ker was a parishioner of First Presbyterian Church, a Rotary Club member and a board member of Waveny Care Center and the Community Service Board. He also served as a trustee of the Old Faithful Fire Engine Company and as a board member and officer of the Country Club of New Canaan.

A memorial service will take place at First Presbyterian Church in New Canaan on June 9 at 1 p.m.

Born Feb. 21, 1923, in Waterbury, Conn., he was the son of Emma Grace James Ker and Robert W. Ker. He attended Waterbury schools, graduating from Crosby High School and attending University of Vermont.

Ker enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He served in the Pacific Theater, where he earned battle stars in New Guinea and the Philippines. Ker was promoted to the rank of captain and was honorably discharged in the fall of 1946. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 1948, he entered Harvard Business School.

His business career began with Pacific Mills in New York City. A resident of Trinity House in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., Ker met his wife of 62 years, Jane, there. They spent their first four years together in Pasadena, Calif., where Ker was posted to manage Pacific Mills' western region.

They returned to the east coast with Burlington Mills when it acquired Pacific Mills. Ker also ran the marketing divisions for Fieldcrest Mills, Philadelphia Carpet Company and Magee Carpet Company-Shaw Industries.

For several years in the mid-1960s, Ker was co-owner of Alling Rubber Company in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. Later, he was founder, owner and president of the Guilford Company based in Norwalk. He came out of retirement in 1992 to manage Kitchens by Deane.

During his career, Ker served on the boards of the Standish Lithograph Company, Magee Carpet Company, Magee Glanz Company, Polymica Corporation, Kitchens by Deane and the University of Connecticut School of Business Administration's family business program.

In 1963, the family moved to New Canaan, where Ker and his wife remained until 2001 when he retired for the "last time" to Cape Cod. In New Canaan, he was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church and chair of its Scottish committee. In New York, he was trustee of the choir school of St. Thomas Church, a member of the Empire State Club and St. Andrews Society of the State of New York.

In Cape Cod, he became a member of the Brewster Senior Men's Club, board member and officer of the Brewster Historical Society, volunteer at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History and a student at Cape Cod Community College.

Ker is survived by his wife, Jane; two daughters, Andrea Ker Hutter, of Ridgefield, and Marla Nelson Ker, of Olney, Md.; a son, Robert "Rab" (Elizabeth) W. Ker III, of New Canaan, and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased by two sisters, Doris Kessler Beetem and Nancy Ker Seaman.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, the First Presbyterian Church in New Canaan or Brewster Fire and Rescue, 1657 Main St., Brewster, MA 02631.

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