Dr. Robert Hughes Kerce was born Nov 29, 1925 in Bartow, Fla., and passed away on Sept. 27, 2021. Dr. Kerce lived an adventurous and full life. He was devoted (truly devoted) to his wife, Elizabeth Stafford Kerce, to whom he was married on Aug. 22, 1947 and to his three daughters – the Kerce girls – Beth, Karen, and Linda. His sons-in-law (Rick Chambers, David Browning, and David Elrod) also knew his love. In later years, his joy was made complete by grandchildren (Jonathan and Benjamin (Mallory) Laine; John (Jenna) Elrod; Kathryn Chambers Sanders; and Rose Chambers) and great grandchildren (Isabelle, Adelle, and Benjamin Laine, Brooklyn Chambers, Nora Elrod, and Lillian, Ashlyn, and Riley Sanders). He is also survived by several dear nieces, nephews, and cousins. Dr. Kerce’s parents and siblings have all passed away, and he looked forward to being with them again in heaven. Dr. Kerce and his family were blessed by many kind caregivers and hospice workers in his final days – and are especially thankful for their compassion. Dr. Kerce studied mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech through the US Navy’s V12 program. He graduated from there just as WWII ended and served ten years in the US Naval Reserve. He came to Lipscomb in 1946 and served in numerous roles including band director, assistant to the president, business manager and ultimately taught mathematics for over 50 years. He was chair of the mathematics department for many years and was named a Lipscomb Legend in 2002. Along the way, he earned a Master of Science (MS) degree from Vanderbilt University and his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in mathematics from George Peabody College. Dr. Kerce also served as a minister and elder at numerous churches of Christ. Among his longest tenures were service as pulpit minister of the 11th Street Church of Christ in Nashville, as a shepherd at Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville, and later as a shepherd at Main St. Church of Christ in Manchester. Other churches Dr. Kerce served during his over 50 years of ministry included Churches of Christ in Franklin, Ky.; and in Tennessee: Allisona, Cane Creek, Carter’s Creek, Watertown, Green Hill (near Mt. Juliet), Liberty, Pennington Bend, Park Avenue, and Charlotte Avenue. After retirement from teaching, Dr. Kerce relived many precious childhood experiences of visiting his Georgia relatives on their farms by spending time on his own small farm in Manchester. He worked tirelessly there, taking care of his cows, painting all that could be painted, and using his John Deere tractor. His south Georgia relatives cooked fried foods of every variety – and created memories that were with him to the end. An avid camper and lover of the outdoors, Dr. Kerce and his family spent countless vacations in tents and campers across Tennessee, in the Smokies, and multiple tours across North America (with systematic investigation of beaches and seafood restaurants). Boating and fishing were great joys as well. The Kerce family seldom went camping alone and were often accompanied by lifelong friends such as the Ralph Nance family. He was a skilled water skier and was last spotted riding a jet ski in his eighties. He took a special joy in sharing God’s creation with other families, and camping trips and vacations often included an entourage of close friends and dear co-worker’s families. Dr. Kerce was an aficionado of food of all types but had a special place in his heart for A&W Root Beer, Dairy Queen, and ice cream in general. He seemed to know by heart the locations of every Dairy Queen and A&W Root Beer drive-in across the southeastern US (at which he always stopped). He impacted countless lives through his teaching in the classroom, from the pulpit, and sharing the joys of the outdoors. His love for God was clearly evident and right behind that came his love for his sweet wife Elizabeth. His family especially remembers the sweet prayers he led at family gatherings. Although he will be greatly missed by all who knew him, his influence will live on and continue to bless our lives. Visitation with the family was on Sunday, Oct. 3, from noon until 2 p.m. at Central Funeral Home. Graveside services were conducted Sunday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m. at Rose Hill Memorial Gardens in Tullahoma. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to either the R.H. Kerce Mathematics Scholarship at Lipscomb University or to the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville.
Central Funeral Home