School 27

Mary Catherine (Crabb) Kerr

October 31, 1942 ~ September 19, 2021 (age 78)

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WASHINGTON - Mary Catherine Crabb Kerr, 78, passed away on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home in Peoria, IL.

She was born on October 31, 1942, in Macomb, IL, to Carle R. Jr. and Martha (Lewis) Crabb. She married Richard A. Kerr on August 20, 1966 in Macomb. 

She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Richard Kerr of Washington; her two sons, Andrew (Rachel) Kerr of Macomb, Illinois, and Mark (“Monica” Hyun-Jyong Lee) of Almaty, Kazakhstan; five grandchildren, Catherine of Lawrence, Kansas, Elizabeth of Washington, Illinois, Julius of Miami, Florida, and Máiri-Lee and Jaek-Lee of Almaty, Kazakhstan; three brothers, John R. Crabb, David T. Crabb Sr., and Merle L. Crabb; one sister, Lida Jane Reeder; and also numerous nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews that she loved and cherished, as well. Two brothers, Carle R. Crabb III and Daniel P. Crabb preceded her in death. 

She was a graduate of the Western Illinois University Laboratory School (K-12), and Western Illinois University with a BS in Education. She also graduated from Bradley University with an MS in Education Administration and Illinois State University with a Reading Specialist Certification. She loved teaching youngsters to read, explore, and grow. 

She started her career in the printing business through Crabb Publications in Macomb, Illinois that was started by her grandfather and later run by her father. She also reported as a Macomb correspondent (“stringer”) for the Peoria Star and Quincy Herald Whig. She had a long career in education that included teaching at Washington Junior High in Peru, Richwoods High School in Peoria, and different schools in District 52 in Washington. She was also the principal of Westview Elementary in Canton. After retirement, Mary enjoyed volunteering at Harrison Elementary School in Peoria and consulted on reading and engaged learning. Of all her roles, Mary said the best position she ever held was that of being a grandmother.

She is the author of Washington’s Homefront and POWs (an Illinois Historical Award winner), WWII Camp Elis: Homefronts and POWs, and co-authored Mary Lincoln’s Journey with her granddaughter, Catherine Kerr. 

Mary was very active in her community including Crossroads United Methodist Church, McDonough County Historical Society, McDonough County Genealogical Society, Amherst VA Historical Society, Canton Heritage Museum, Black Partridge Chapter of the DAR, HG Chapter of PEO, Washington Historical Society (and creator of Team Travels in Trunks, Geocaching White Paper, and the Roots Awards), Board of Directors of the Illinois Reading Council and State President of the K-3 Reading division, Treasurer of the Washington Library Board, Secretary of the Channel 22 Board of Directors, Tazewell Retired Teachers, Illinois Principals Association, International Reading Association, and Western Illinois University Alumni council. 

Mary loved the outdoors and spending that time with her family. This included hot air ballooning, camping, hiking, snorkeling, baking, and especially reading with her children, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. Family was extremely important to her, and she enjoyed that time immensely. 

Cremation Rites have been accorded. Due to COVID-19, the family is postponing the Celebration of Life Service for Mary, which will be announced at a later time. If you would like to share a memory about Mary or offer condolences, please visit

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