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Tallahassee, Fla. – Monsignor William A. Kerr, a leading human rights figure whom serial killer Ted Bundy sought out to be his spiritual counselor on death row, died Wednesday. He was 68.
Kerr was hospitalized May 3 after suffering a stroke as he concluded celebrating a Mass.
“Monsignor Kerr traveled all over the globe, touching lives everywhere as he worked to build a more peaceful world,” Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell said in announcing his death. “The world has lost a true visionary.”
Kerr in 1978 administered last rites to a woman bludgeoned to death in her sorority house near the Florida State campus by Bundy, who later turned to the priest for spiritual counseling. Kerr last spoke with Bundy two days before the condemned man died in Florida’s electric chair in January 1989.
Whether he was visiting refugees in Rwanda or Bosnia or sharing Thanksgiving dinner each year with his longtime friend Roger Staubach, the former Dallas Cowboys and Navy star quarterback, Kerr touched lives, his friends say.
Staubach once said if anyone could resolve the differences between the Israelis and Palestinians, he’d bet on his longtime friend.
Also among Kerr’s longtime friends was Vice President Joe Biden. The two men met by chance outside Biden’s Senate office more than 30 years ago and began a lasting conversation on faith and politics.
Kerr’s career took him from a parish priest in his St. Louis hometown to the presidency of La Roche College near Pittsburgh, vice president of Catholic University and executive director of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.
Kerr spent many years in Tallahassee after being assigned to the Catholic Student Center at Florida State University in 1971. He returned in 2006 as executive director of the Claude Pepper Center for Intercultural Dialogue.
A funeral is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the St. Thomas More Co-Cathedral, where the Monsignor fell ill earlier this month.’
Associated Press
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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