On August 5, 2014 Robert V Kerley passed peacefully at the age of 93, one month shy of his 94th birthday. We are comforted in knowing that he will be joining his loving wife Pauline, his mother and father, six brothers and sister, and his grandson Ty Thomasson. Born in El Paso, Texas on September 27, 1920, Robert (affectionately called “RV” or “Bob”) was one of seven children. He attended grade school and high school in El Paso, Texas and graduated Summa Cum Laude at the University of Texas from the College of Chemical Engineering. Already sought out and hired by Standard Oil, Bob started working immediately. In 1948, while working in New Jersey, he met and fell in love with Pauline Dion. Things progressed quickly when his brother, Barney, asked him to come to El Paso and join him in a new business venture. Bob went to tell Pauline he was moving to El Paso, which ended in a marriage proposal. Soon they were headed cross-country in an 18-wheeler hauling equipment needed for the new business.
Kerley Chemical Company (later became Kerley Industries, Inc.) was eventually owned by four of six brothers, Barney, Robert, Donald and Ralph Kerley. Kerley Chemical Company started as a fertilizer, blending and field application activity but quickly expanded into insecticides and a full line of the newer agricultural chemicals that were just emerging. In 1956, Bob and Pauline moved their family to Phoenix, AZ where the Kerley’s purchased the Harris Cattle Company to build their first Chemical Plant. Kerley Chemical became the first manufacturer of dry ammonia phosphate fertilizers in the West through the invention of the “T Rector” that later became the backbone of liquid high analyzing phosphate fertilizer. At this time most of West Texas natural gas plants were flaring their hydrogen sulfide gas. As Kerley was buying Sulphur for grinding, they installed one of the earliest Sulphur recovery plants. With an abundance of hydrogen sulfide gas available, the company began looking for other uses for this material and developed Nitro-Sul @. With this product they entered the liquid fertilizer industry, which was in its infancy. Nitro-Sul @ is an excellent source of nitrogen and sulphur fertilizer, and in calcareous soils it has the unique property of improving the soils ability to absorb and retain water. It was an extremely important attribute in most of the Western States. This was the birth of the sulphur based liquid fertilizer industry. With the success of developed products by Kerley Chemical, Nitro-Sul@ and Thio-Sul@- the Kerley brothers became known as the “Sulphur People”.
Kerley Chemical pioneered the liquid fertilizer industry and went on to develop several instrumental and highly successful products contributing to the mining industry including NaHS and (NH4)2S. Using (NH4)2S, Kerley developed a process utilizing this material to separate copper and moly in the copper mining industry, a process that proved so successful that nearly all copper mines in the world use it today. Kerley Industries Inc. eventually was sold in 1981, however RV continued to be innovative and went on to build and sell several chemical plants over the next 30 years. At the age of 80 RV was still active in the industry and built a mining reagent chemical plant in Baytown, Texas where he continued to work until the death of his beloved wife, Pauline. At the age of 88, he retired. His creativity and ability to see opportunities when others only saw problems was a real talent and made him a great business leader.
As successful as RV was in his business career, he soared as an individual. He showed compassion and fairness to everyone he engaged. He believed in second chances and looked for the good in people. He believed in a strong and moral work ethic, and would stand behind anyone willing to put in the time and effort. Bob was instrumental in spearheading the right to work law in Lake Charles, Louisiana after union picketers killed an employee at his Jupiter plant. In the 60’s/70’s when smoking was prevalent, he offered his employees a cash incentive to quit smoking based on the honor system. His deliberate honesty and quick wit could sometimes leave you speechless or laughing. His family will forever remember his unbelievable one-liners. He had a great sense of humor, ability to charm and was a true gentleman. He believed a man’s best virtue was humility and was beyond generous to his employees, friends and family alike. Family vacations and traveling around the world with Pauline was his favorite past time. His Irish ancestry and family were very important to him and at the age of 84, he fulfilled a lifelong dream of going to Ireland along with his wife and children, seeking his orphaned father’s relatives and succeeded. He loved Mexico and would often bring his children and grandchildren. He loved Mexican food and at every dinner, chopped chilies and onions were a necessity. He was game for everything from shooting the rapids on the Snake River with his children or parasailing with his grandchildren in Mexico at the age of 80. His passion was work and his love was his family.
He always felt lucky and grateful for the wonderful life that he lived and would often say “only in America”. At the center of it all for our family, the world has sincerely lost a wonderful person. His son; Robert D Kerley, his two daughters, Linda Mougey Kerley and Maureen Milke Kerley; his six grandchildren, Leah Spano, Lana Darrin, Stefanie, Darren and Robert Mougey, and Madison Kerley; and three great grandchildren, London and Logan Spano, and Halleigh Porter-Mougey, survive Robert V Kerley
Family and friends are invited to a Mass of the Resurrection at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 10am. Located at 10815 N 84th St., Scottsdale AZ 85260. “Celebration of Life” to immediately follow.Print Obituary & Condolences