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Chalet Theatre Owner Passes Away

Ken Kerr was diagnosed with terminal cancer in November.

Ken Kerr, the owner of the Chalet Theatre in Enumclaw, passed away Friday, Dec. 7.

His death was reported on the theatre's Facebook page Friday afternoon. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in November.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, it was business as usual at the Chalet for a Chalet Arts Showcase Theatre (C.A.S.T.) event featuring the Cascade Foothills Chorale singing "A Home Town Christmas."

The event includes performances on both days this weekend, and both performances were dedicated to Kerr, Jeff Coats, representing C.A.S.T., told the audience Saturday.

Remembering Kerr, Coats said that everyone in town had likely met him at some point - especially at the Chalet's ticket window. "Ken Kerr is someone that I think everybody knows, but nobody knows."

For example, in addition to being a theatre owner, Kerr was also a social worker. The Theatre building has apartment units in the upstairs level and he houses several employees there, Coats said. "And it's not a big thing for them to have that."

For C.A.S.T., which has been working to bring more varied forms of entertainment to the venue with the intent to eventually purchase the building, "he provides a service here to us. ...It wasn't like we had some sort of big financial arrangement or anything. It was something that Ken wanted to see and he just loved what we were doing. ... We look forward to seeing our project through more now than ever."

For Chalet staffers Robert Young, 23, and Alex Starroff, 21, who both grew up watching movies here, the news of Kerr's death wasn't a surprise, but they're not sure what's happening in terms of the future of the theatre. "It's definitely a transition period," Starroff said. "Ken left a good thing behind, but it's not going to be the same without him, obviously."

Young said for the time being, operations would be overseen by Kerr's nephew. Young has been working at the Chalet for eight years and is one of the employees who lives above the Theatre. He got the job through his brother who had also worked there. "Ken was always a person who helped people out," he said. "It's just who he was."

Starroff has been here for about five years and also was hired thanks to connections with another employee. Kerr took it upon himself to help mold Starroff's world view by encouraging her, as a 16-year-old, to keep up with current events. "He got me into the newspaper," she said. "It's a good thing - just to keep up reading the newspaper and doing things in it. I feel like not a lot of people my age do that."

SHARE: What are some of your fondest memories of Ken Kerr at the Chalet?

April Chan December 08, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Thanks to Enumclaw media services coordinator Bryson Michael for sending us a YouTube clip featuring an interview with Mr. Kerr, which was part of an Internet show Michael produced a few years ago. The clip is embedded to this story, with the accompanying photo. The segment at the Chalet featuring Ken starts at about the 4:45 mark.
Bryson Michael December 08, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Countless memories at that great theater... all of which started with Ken tearing the ticket. I remember standing in line to see the re-released Star Wars films, puking in the bathroom during Harry Potter because I ate too many Apple-O's (I still can't eat those things), sitting front row during The Sixth Sense with my eyes closed, and getting to see my own short films play to a packed house. Thank you Ken for making it all happen, for lighting up that silver screen.
Mandee Bell December 08, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I remember going to the theater with my boyfriend (now my husband) Jecoa Bell when we were only 15 yrs old! That was almost 16 yrs ago. Ken was such a larger part of our community & a nice man. He will be greatly missed. We're sorry to see him go..... Mandee Bell
Sheila December 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Mr. Kerr was a great fellow. When I was raising my kids 30 years ago, I once asked him why he kept prices lower than any other theater around. He said he wanted kids to be able to afford to see a movie. That stayed with me all these years. I'm sad to hear that he has passed. He was a nice part of Enumclaw.
gabe moeller March 06, 2014 at 07:10 PM
my grandpa was the best grandpa and i loved going to the movies and helping out all of you at the ticket booth when he would let me and helping you at the candy counters and since he has passed i realized i want to take over so that's what i'm going to do i'm going to go to collage and i'm going to get it back up and doing that is my goal in life that's my dream to get my grandpas theater going back up.

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