Teresa Kerzan 1950 - 2021

For many, our mother Teresa was a Mother Teresa. She had struggles in her life, like us all. Unlike most of us, she used that struggle to guide her empathy. She saw people for who they were; their choices didn't matter to her; she only saw them as their best selves. She saw your heart and the good it was capable of, even if you could not see it yourself.

This passionate Scorpio was born in Olympia, Washington, and raised in Willamina, Oregon. A creator whose love for fashion was apparent early in her custom-made clothing and the costumes she made for her high school's plays.

At 21, she had a beautiful tow-haired boy, Zachary. At 25, she had a beautiful fiery red-headed girl, Sunshine. And at 29, she had gorgeous brown-haired beauty, Cassidy.

Like many people, she grappled with personal demons, and in the late '80s she made significant changes to her life to better herself. In 1988, she joined AA and remained sober for the rest of her life.

She received a degree in both cosmetology and learned the art of nails at McMinnville Beauty College. Her first job as a certified nail technician was at AC Hair Dimensions. She held hands with hundreds, maybe thousands. She listened to their stories, inquired about their lives, gave support and gave advice —if asked. Most of all, she gave comfort. By far, she was (personal opinion) the most popular nail technician in the Willamette Valley.

Her love for nails and fashion brought her to 10 nail art competitions, in which she placed first in six and runner-up in three. She's remembered for her Black Hills gold nails done with gold foil beads and small attached leaves. As a lover of dress-up and Halloween, Teresa especially enjoyed the competition's themes. Her most notable, the Egyptian Pharaohs, utilized acrylic to build tall palm trees that impressed the judges and her competition.

In 1999, Teresa and her daughter Cassidy went into business together. The Catz Meow was open for business —and it proudly stood out from the crowd. Nowhere else could one spend the day and become a completely different person physically and emotionally. Nails. Tattoos. Piercings. Hair. Massage. Unpaid counseling.

Richard Kerzan was the love of her life. No two people —ever, showed more respect and love for each other. They became an aspiration for love and an often unattainable benchmark for a relationship.

When Richard needed a double organ transplant, her empathy kicked into overdrive, her passion doubled. The "I'm helping Rick" fundraising campaign began. From slinging Jem 100 ice cream at Turkey Rama, garage sales at the Frog's Donuts & Espresso and a big concert in McMinnville, Teresa would not stop until her love was saved. The efforts got Richard his transplants earlier than anticipated, ultimately giving them an additional 24 loving years together.

Teresa (Ashwell) Kerzan died Monday, March 1, 2021. She was with her three children and warm caretakers, who made sure she passed with everything she needed. She is survived by all her children and her five grandchildren,  Bailey, Parker, Cash, Claire and Margaret. She is missed every moment, but if you close your eyes and think of her, our Mother Teresa will be there with you.

Closed services will be held at 2:00 p.m. March 27, at First Baptist Church. Viewing for the services will be streamed via Facebook. Please reach out to her children for information.



She will be so dearly missed. She was there for me when I needed her many years ago. LY MT


What a lovely obituary. I did not ever meet her but she sounds like a person/nail tech I would love. God bless her and God bless her family.

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