I’m sad to announce that our dear friend, and one of the true pioneers of Photoshop and digital imaging education, Robb Kerr, passed away this week after a long hard-fought battle with cancer.
Back when Kelby Training first started, we were doing one of our one-day seminars in Nashville (it was our first time to Nashville), and a friend in the area told us, “You’ve got to meet Robb Kerr—-in the Nashville area, he’s the local Photoshop genius.” Well, we met Robb, and it turned out he wasn’t just the ‘local’ genius—he was a true find–a gifted, fun, and engaging Photoshop instructor, and that rare breed who was both a Creative Type and a technical Prepress expert.
We asked Robb to join our team, and from that point on Robb and I would split the day of training, which took a big load off me. 12 years ago we were teaching one of our seminars in Atlanta, when I got the call that my wife’s water broke earlier than expected. I scrambled to the airport, and Robb took over and taught the entire day himself, and did just an amazing job. This enabled me to be there for the birth of my son Jordan, who was born 12 hours later, but beyond that I was able to lighten my travel load and spend time with my growing family, as Robb took over many of my one-day seminars himself, as the first outside instructor in Kelby Training’s history.
With Robb, we now had a rock solid second full-time trainer that helped our company reach new markets and spread our training nationwide. When NAPP Launched Photoshop World, back in 1999, Robb and I were the two featured instructors, teaching 10 sessions each, and it was Robb’s hard work and dedication that made the first Photoshop World such a success.
Robb became a fixture at Photoshop World, teaching classes on everything from large output, to Photoshop and CMYK, to special effects, and pretty much everything in-between. About six years ago we were at Photoshop World in San Diego, and after the event, we hold an instructor dinner, and for the first time ever, Robb didn’t show. This was really rare for Robb, because this little closing dinner party was originally his idea, and he loved sharing the “war stories” from the week, and getting a chance to spend time with his fellow instructors. I figured he was just exhausted, and fell asleep in his room.
When we got back to Florida the next day, we learned that Robb had gotten really sick and had been taken to the hospital in San Diego, with what everyone thought at first was a stomach virus, or food poisoning, but later we learned the sad news that it was Stage-4 cancer.
Robb spent the next six years beating every doctor’s mortality estimate, and becoming an advocate for new cancer treatments and studies. Robb would send all his friends quarterly newsletters on the process of his battle, and no matter how bleak things became, he had an attitude and determination that was simply inspirational. Sometimes Robb’s email updates were encouraging; often they were heartbreaking, but Robb’s attitude was always so amazing. I kept all Robb’s email updates, and remember how he closed a particularly sad one from September of 2004. He closed by saying:
“Thank you for all the support you've given me so far. Keep sending me those positive brain waves and keep whispering in God's ear for me.”
Robb knew the hand he had been dealt from the beginning, but he kept fighting, trying new treatments, signing on to experimental treatment programs, and trying to reach out and help others in the same position.
Earlier this week, surrounded by his family and friends, Robb quietly passed away at his home in Nashville. I’ll never forget the many contributions Robb made to our company, to the formation of NAPP, to creation of Photoshop World, and for his dedication to the tens of thousands of students he reached through his seminars, and through Photoshop User magazine.
Our community has truly lost one of its pioneers, but beyond that, Robb was just one hell of a great guy. Stronger than any of us knew. More talented than I’ll ever be, and as beloved by those around him as anyone would ever hope to be. He leaves us with a legacy of giving, sharing, and hope, as a man whose life is an inspiration to us all. We’ll miss you, buddy.