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."
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