Last week, I spoke on the phone with Ann Kerr, the longtime manager of the Fulbright Scholar Enrichment Program at U.C.L.A. and the mother of the Golden State Warriors’ coach, Steve Kerr. Ann and I had originally been scheduled to talk a few days earlier, but there was a shooting on the U.C.L.A. campus—a former Ph.D. student had killed an engineering professor and then himself—and we’d had to postpone.
“Events at U.C.L.A. have been unsettling for everyone,” Kerr wrote to me in an e-mail asking to reschedule. “But for me it brought back memories of January 18, 1984 on the A.U.B. campus.” On that day, Malcolm Kerr, Ann’s husband and Steve’s father, was assassinated by members of Islamic Jihad, a precursor of Hezbollah, outside his office at the American University of Beirut, where he was president.
Later, when we spoke, Ann Kerr revisited that day. She remembered getting word that Malcolm had been shot, and rushing to his office, where she saw him lying on the ground. It was a rainy day, and she remembers biting down on the handle of her umbrella on the way to the hospital.
“I looked at the historic clock tower and I thought, why is that clock still ticking?” she said. “Malcolm is killed; everything is going to come to a standstill.”