William S. Kerr II, 86, of Vero Beach, Fla., who served as vice president and business manager of Northwestern University for 27 years, died Jan. 31  at Indian River Estates Medical Center after an extended illness. A memorial service was held at Indian River Estates in Vero Beach.
Mr. Kerr moved to Florida in 1981, when he retired from Northwestern.
Mr. Kerr had a major leadership role in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Northwestern faced a critical need for more dormitories and academic buildings. A study by Mr. Kerr ruled out two alternatives ‹ expanding into Evanston, which would take land off the tax rolls, or crowding the campus with new buildings.
Mr. Kerr recommended expansion of the campus into Lake Michigan, an unprecedented plan that required approval of the Evanston City Coun-cil, Cook County Board, Illinois legislature and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Kerr and University Counsel Alban Weber led the efforts for approval. Their lobbying efforts resulted in the unanimous approval by the House and Senate of bills authorizing the addition of 74 acres of lakefront property to the campus.
Before joining Northwestern, Mr. Kerr had a 25-year career with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad where he became executive assistant to the president. In that position, he proposed and designed the double-decker commuter rail car, a design still used today.
Mr. Kerr served five years with the U.S. Army in World War II, attaining the rank of major and then colonel. He was stationed in the China, Burma, India Theater where he led the effort to build the Burma Railroad as an Allied supply line. He was awarded the Bronze Star.
Mr. Kerr served as a trustee of the King Home for Men in Evanston, director and trustee of the Evanston YMCA, president of the Evanston Historical Society and adviser to the Chi Psi fraternity at Northwestern. He also served as a director of the State Bank of Evanston, First Federal Savings and Loan of Chicago, Northern Illinois Gas, CLC of America and the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Mr. Kerr is survived by his wife, Nan Netsch Kerr; two sons, Andrew Kerr of Wilmette and William S. Kerr III of Topanga, Calif.; a daughter, Elizabeth Nan Kerr of Evanston; and two brothers, John Kerr of Bozeman, Mont., and Douglas of Ft. Pierce, Fla. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Illinois St. Andrew Society, North Riverside, Ill.; the ACTS Samaritan Fund, West Point, Penn.; or the Kohl Children's Museum, Wilmette, Ill.