Darthea Redding Kerr

Darthea Redding Kerr, a soprano vocalist who worked as executive assistant to the National Symphony Orchestra and personnel manager of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, died Aug. 16 of cancer at her home in Essex.

She was 61.

Mrs. Kerr was born in 1949 in Philadelphia. She was the second daughter of James and Jane Redding, and was raised in Severna Park.

Mrs. Kerr started singing as a young girl at school, where the choir teacher encouraged her to pursue singing, her sister said. "Music was a very important part of our life. Someone would play the piano and she would sing," said Katherine Snyder, of West Chester, Pa. "She was the only one of us who could sing. I don't know what we are going to do now."

Mrs. Kerr graduated from Severna Park High School, where she was a cheerleader, in 1967 and later studied music at the Peabody Institute of theJohns Hopkins University.

She married her high school sweetheart, Donald MacMurray. At one point, they moved to Las Vegas but returned to Severna Park.

Mrs. Kerr later earned a degree from Stratford Business College and a bachelor of arts degree in voice and music from Towson University.

"Dottie and I had our first day of college together," said Greg Szczescek, recalling their meeting in 1994. "I was 18 and she was in her 40s. It was a music theory class that started at 8 o'clock in the morning." He said the two spoke briefly before the class began and she helped calm his nerves.

But while the two went their separate ways after college, he said, she started singing with him in the Sherwood Episcopal Church choir in Cockeysville, where he now is choir director. Mrs. Kerr sang with several area choirs, including the Paul Hill Chorale in Washington and the choir of Immanuel Episcopal Church in Glencoe.

"She was a tremendous singer," he said.

Mrs. Kerr had worked as a personnel manager for Piper, Marbury, which later became Piper Rudnick; as an assistant personnel manager of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and was executive assistant to Leonard Slatkin, former music director of the National Symphony Orchestra.

After Mr. Slatkin joined the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Mrs. Kerr became a personal assistant to Afsaneh M. Beschloss, president and chief executive of the Rock Creek Group LLC, a Washington-based hedge fund.

She was employed by Mrs. Beschloss as well as her husband, presidential historian Michael Beschloss, up until her death.

She continued to enjoy singing throughout her life.

"She always had an unbelievable voice," said her husband, Gerard Kerr. "The first time I heard it, I started crying."

Mrs. Kerr and her husband met seven years earlier over the Internet. They married this year. Mr. Kerr, an architect with Tuscan International Inc., remembered their first date, during which they shared a mutual interest in music. The two moved to their waterfront home in Essex, where she was able to work from home.

"We did everything together," he said. "We had a great relationship."

She was an avid landscape photographer and also enjoyed gardening and liked to cook.

"She didn't know how important she was to other people. She was very humble," Mrs. Snyder said.

In addition to her husband and sister, Ms. Redding Kerr is survived by her daughter, Erin MacMurray; two step-daughters, Jacqueline and Margaux Kerr, of Virginia Beach, Va.; and another sister, Evie Redding, ofAnnapolis.

A funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, 4 E. University Parkway in Baltimore. Private interment will follow at Immanuel Cemetery in Glencoe.

The family suggested donations to The Chimes Foundation Inc.


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