Donald Jon Kerr was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and attended schools there before entering Roanoke College. At Roanoke, he served as Secretary and President of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. He was one of the top athletes at Roanoke during his stay in Salem. A two-sport athlete, he was on the men's track team and was a member of the men's soccer team from 1956-59 where he served as a two-year team captain. He was a member of the Monogram Club all four years and was voted All Mason-Dixon Conference and All-State. He set the Virginia State Tournament scoring record as a senior and led Roanoke to the Virginia State Championship in 1957. Kerr received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960 majoring in Political Science and History.
After graduation, Kerr served as a member of the U.S. Intelligence Service, Far East, from 1961-65. He joined the Campbell Soup Company in 1965 where he worked for fifteen years managing operations in New Jersey, South Carolina, Arkansas, and California. He then served as Vice President of Operations at John Labatt, Ltd. before joining Crestar Food Products, a subsidiary of H.J. Heinz in 1985. He retired as President and CEO from Crestar in 1999 to form his own company, Kerr Industries, Inc., where he currently serves as President and CEO. Kerr Industries is comprised of Bright Harvest Sweet Potato Company located in Clarksville, Arkansas, and Dakota Brands International located in Jamestown, North Dakota.
Kerr has been a dedicated alumnus to his alma mater. He is known affectionately as "the sweet potato man" because of his donation of some 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes to the College for the annual "Potato Drop." This is a campus-wide service project that brings together faculty, staff and students to bag potatoes for donation to various food banks and homeless shelters. He served on the President's Advisory Board before becoming a member of the Board of Trustees in 1998. He is member of the Society of 1842 and is a Lifetime Distinguished member of the Roanoke College Associates. For his athletic achievements, Kerr was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
In the spring of 2007, Kerr provided the lead gift that made possible the turf facility that is now home to Roanoke College's soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams. The field was dedicated in 2007 as the Donald J. Kerr Stadium.
Don and his wife, Linda, reside in Brentwood, Tennessee. He has three children: Kimberly, Rence, and Wendy.
Donald Kerr received the Roanoke College Medal in 2012.