I was born in New Orleans to Mercedes “Dee” and William “Bill” Kerner III. They raised my brother, Billy, and I in Jefferson Parish. We attended St. Agnes, then St. Mary Magdalen. I was very close to my maternal grandmother, Mercedes Jackson, and I was fortunate enough to have her around until she was 92. She was head of housekeeping at a hotel, an immensely dutiful person in all respects, and had a great impact on my life. My grandfather, Bill Kerner Jr., was an original founder of United Cab in the late 30’s. My father followed in his footsteps and became a powerbase of that company. He was also a fireman who eventually became a district fire chief in New Orleans.
I went to Archbishop Chapelle high school then onto UNO for college. However I was too ambitious for my own good and quit to eventually start my first company at 20 years old in 1981. My parents were concerned about my future but voiced that at least one of my customers might hire me. To their surprise, and mine, in my first month of sales, I cleared $7,600. I immediately went out and spent half on an Apple MacIntosh 128k computer. That started my love of technology.
In 1991, I met both my husband, Frank Stuart, and my business partner, Louis Roussel Jr., I married Frank in 1995 and Louie and I started Bailey Link in 1997. I wrote his autobiography and published it a year later. Frank had 4 children from a prior marriage and we had two daughters together. Being married and raising a family was my favorite part of life so far.
However, in 2011, my life took a dramatic turn after the brutal murder of my brother Billy. He was my only sibling and we were very close. It was a devastating blow to me. The grief was genuinely unbearable but I turned it into action and became the first woman president of United Cab over 400 men. Misfortune wasn’t finished with me. Almost 2 years to the day, over the next 14 months, I lost my mom, my dad, my step daughter, a best friend, and my 1st cousin. I felt as if God was a bad aim. He was missing and getting everyone around me. But it wasn’t over yet. 4 years later my husband died suddenly of acute myeloid leukemia caused by his work on the BP Oil Spill . Then the following year, my nephew, Billy’s son, overdosed on heroin. 8 loves in 8 years.
I tell you this story to gain your understanding of what shaped the person I am today. Resilient. And that is what that is what I can be for you.