Ann Kerr

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Ann Kerr as President

Ann Kerr Wylie Greene was an American Theosophist who served in many roles in the Theosophical Society in America and its parent, the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, India. She was National Secretary during the years 1941-1950 and 1960-1972, Vice President 1972-1974, and President for the years 1974-1975. Then she headed the Krotona Institute of Theosophy for many years. In Adyar during the 1950s she served on the staff in various capacities; she was a member of the General Council from 1954 to 1959, and again from 1967 to 1970.

Young Ann Kerr

Early years and personal life

Ann Kerr was born on July 5, 1905 in Schenectady, New York to parents Albert R Kerr and Wilhelmina H Kreuzberger. During her childhood she lived with her Kreuzberger grandparents and attended Schenectady High School, where she was active in several clubs. She joined the Theosophical Society in 1924 in Schenectady, New York as a founding member of that branch.[1]

Shortly thereafter she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she attended Wayne State University. She was active in the Young Theosophists and in all phases of the Branch work in Detroit, teaching study classes, giving lectures, and finally and finally serving as President of of the Detroit Branch [elected in 1934].[2]

On March 13, 1927 Ann was married to a Mr. Bryan, of whom nothing more is known.[3] Ann Kerr was later married to three prominent Theosophists. After a brief wartime marriage to lecturer Fred Werth, she was married to Samuel H. Wylie (March 18, 1894 - April 18, 1971) until his death in 1971; and finally to Oliver Greene (February 9, 1902 - February 7, 1989) on June 23, 1977 in California.

For twelve years Miss Kerr worked for a "nationally known insurance company as assistant to personnel manager and as department head," but then resigned in 1937 to join the Olcott staff.[4]

Ann Kerr and friend working in garden at Olcott, 1940s.
Ann Kerr operating Sound Scriber at convention, early 1950s

Theosophical work

In 1937, she joined the headquarters staff on the Olcott campus in Wheaton, Illinois. She worked for the Theosophical Press before accepting the responsibility of being National Secretary from 1941-1950 during the Cook and Perkins administrations. "She took a leave of absence in [1950] to participate in the School of the Wisdom in Adyar."[5] She departed from Seattle on August 24,[6]but arrived a few days late for the school due to complications of sailing during the Korean War. However, she was able to attend the Seventy-fifth Annual Convention of the Society."[7] "Several years later was invited to Adyar where she served as assistant international secretary for six years."[8] For a time she also served as Director of the Adyar Library and Research Centre.[9] She "loved Adyar very much."[10] A farewell party was held for her at the Bhojansālā [Adyar's Indian dining hall] on December 18, 1958:

Following the lunch, the President [N. Sri Ram] and Miss Emma Hunt spoke a few words, to which Ann responded in reminiscent mood and with some humor. The was then garlanded, according to Indian custom, together with Mr. Seymour Ballard who also was returning to the States.

Arriving at Adyar in May 1953, Ann was for five and a half years one of the foremost workers at Headquarters. She gave her services as Assistant Recording Secretary, Administrator of the Estate, and Director of the Adyar Library. She will be greatly missed by all Adyar workers.[11]

On returning from India, she toured American lodges, giving public lectures on India and talks to members on Adyar, using films and slides.[12] Once again she became National Secretary. "Ann was the quintessential National Secretary, utterly selfless and devoted to the society."[13]

From 1954 to 1959, and again from 1967 to 1970, Mrs. Wylie had the honor of serving on the General Council of the Theosophical Society, its governing body. She was nominated by President N. Sri Ram.[14]

In 1966, with her late husband, Samuel H. Wylie, she attended the World Congress in Austria and the International Convention at Adyar... Mrs. Wylie has returned to Adyar a number of times to attend international Conventions and meetings of the General Council.[15]

Term as President

In 1972, Ann Wylie was elected as Vice President, with Joy Mills serving as President. When Miss Mills was asked to become the Vice President of the international Theosophical Society, Ann Wylie succeeded to the Presidency for the remainder of the term from 1974 to 1975, beginning September 1. The year 1975 was highly significant in the Theosophical Movement, as it marked the 100th anniversary of the Founding of the Theosophical Society. A centenary gathering was held in New York City, and as leader of the Theosophical Society in America, Mrs. Wylie took a leading role in making arrangements for the celebration.

Later in 1975, she became head of the Krotona Institute of Theosophy, and served as Vice President as well. Dora Kunz was elected President of the Theosophical Society in America. In 1978, although nominated for Vice President by 104 people, Ann chose not to continue in that office.[16]

Later years

"When she became Vice-President of the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in 1975 she gave a new impetus to the Centre."[17] "On 11 October 1991, Ann Kerr Greene passed away peacefully in her home at Krotona, California... Many will remember her with admiration and deep affection."[18] She outlived Oliver Greene, who passed on February 7, 1989 in Ojai after teaching for many years at Krotona.[19] Mrs. Greene had served the Society for 67 of her 86 years of life.[20][21]


Ann Kerr contributed articles to The American Theosophist and other Theosophical periodicals. According to the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals, she authored 40 article under the name Ann Kerr, and 26 under the name Ann Wylie.


  1. Ann Wylie letter to Charles R. Hall. March 10, 1962. Fort Myers Lodge records. National Secretary's vault. Theosophical Society in America.
  2. "Mrs. Ann Wylie," The American Theosophist 62.9 (September 1974), 242.
  3. Membership Ledger Cards, microfilm roll 4. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
  4. "Ann Kerr," The American Theosophist 36.5 (April, 1948), 83.
  5. "Anne Kerr Greene, 1905-1991," The American Theosophist 79.6 (November-December 1991), 4.
  6. Caroline Tess letter to Dora E. Gideon. August 24, 1950. Lakeland Lodge records. National Secretary files. Theosophical Society in America.
  7. "Miss Ann Kerr Sails," The American Theosophist 38.10 (October, 1950), 203-204.
  8. "Anne Kerr Greene, 1905-1991," The American Theosophist 79.6 (November-December 1991), 4.
  9. "The Adyar Library," The American Theosophist 44.10 (September, 1956), 186.
  10. "Mrs. Ann Kerr Greene," The Theosophist 113.3 (December 1991), 102.
  11. "Theosophists at Work Around the World" The Theosophist 80.5 (February, 1959), 345-346.
  12. "News and Notes: Miss Ann Kerr," The American Theosophist 40 no. 2 (Feb, 1952), 39.
  13. "Anne Kerr Greene, 1905-1991," The American Theosophist 79.6 (November-December 1991), 4.
  14. "Ann Wylie Elected to General Council," The American Theosophist 66.4 (February 1988), 41.
  15. "Mrs. Ann Wylie," The American Theosophist 62.9 (September 1974), 242.
  16. Dora Kunz, "Viewpoint," The American Theosophist 66.4 (April 1978), 76.
  17. "Mrs. Ann Kerr Greene," The Theosophist 113.3 (December 1991), 102.
  18. "Mrs. Ann Kerr Greene," The Theosophist 113.3 (December 1991), 102.
  19. "Obituaries," The American Theosophist 77.22 (March/April 1989), 60.
  20. "Anne Kerr Greene, 1905-1991," The American Theosophist 79.6 (November-December 1991), 4.
  21. U. S. Social Security Death Index.