Margaret Kerr, retired court stenographer

Margaret Kerr
Margaret Kerr
Posted: July 14, 2012

Margaret Kerr, 84, a retired court stenographer who died Wednesday, July 11, in her Somerton home, was nothing if not determined.

Her determination kept her going as she struggled with the debilitating nature of Parkinson's disease, which ultimately caused her death, said her son, John Dagle.

"She never complained," Dagle said.

The daughter of Irish immigrants, Ms. Kerr was born in Philadelphia's Mayfair section. She graduated in 1944 from Little Flower High School, where she enjoyed shorthand courses.

Ms. Kerr raised Dagle and his brother and sister as a single mother. After graduation, she worked briefly for the federal government as a secretary. Later, she became a typist for court stenographers, translating their notes into transcripts.

To earn more money to support her children, Ms. Kerr decided to become a court stenographer herself, devoting months to studying the craft.

"She worked diligently doing everything a mom does, plus her work, plus studying on the [stenography] machine every night," her son said.

After passing her certification, she worked as a freelance stenographer until she landed steady employment with the Philadelphia Municipal Court system, working for a variety of judges.

"She enjoyed the work, plus she enjoyed the English language. That was her discipline," Dagle said.

Dagle said it was not unusual for his mother to come home from work, prepare the meal, then stay up till midnight to dictate and type up the day's trial notes so lawyers could have transcripts they ordered available the next day.

"She was just amazing," he said. "That's all she cared about - providing for us."

After working in the court system for 22 years, Ms. Kerr retired in 1991 at 64. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2000. She remained in her home in the Somerton section of Northeast Philadelphia until she died.

In retirement, he said, she had some hobbies, including gardening, but "her main interest was taking care of her family."

In addition to her son, Ms. Kerr is survived by daughter Margaret Mary Clark; another son, James; a sister, a grandson, a niece, and a nephew.

Friends may call at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 14, at St. Christopher Roman Catholic Church, 13301 Proctor Rd. A Funeral Mass will follow at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Our Lady of Grace Cemetery in Langhorne.


Contact Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769, jvonbergen@phillynews.com or @JaneVonBergen on Twitter.

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