Retired Harding administrator, civic leader dies
James F. Carr Jr.
Dr. James F. (Jimmy) Carr Jr., 95, of Searcy, Ark., a Christian, died Wednesday, April 1, 2009 in Searcy. He was born May 6, 1913 in Farmville, N.C. the son of James F. and Eula Carr.
He spent his entire working career involved in education, more than 50 years of which were involved in higher education. In 1946, his mentor and friend, Dr. Doak Campbell, president of Florida State University, asked Carr to join his administration. That invitation was the beginning of his career in higher education.
After serving in numerous administrative posts at Florida State University, in 1970 he retired from the Florida Board of Regents to accept the position as assistant dean at then Harding College in Searcy. In 1973 he was named assistant to the president, a position he held until he retired again in 1997.
Former Florida Governor Reubin Askew said, “Jimmy Carr was the most admired and respected college administrator I’ve ever known.”
Carr received his undergraduate education at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. He then received an M.A. in 1942 from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., followed by M.S. and Ed.D. degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1951 and 1955, respectively.
A three and a half-year period of military service in World War II in the Army Air Corps interrupted his graduate work at Peabody. During World War II he was stationed in the Cook Islands, where he developed numerous friendships with the islanders.
Known for his boundless energy and exuberant enthusiasm, Carr coined the phrase in the mid-70s, “It’s great to be at Harding!” Just a few months before his retirement from Harding he reiterated that feeling by saying his time at Harding “has been the greatest experience of my career.”
During his tenure at Harding he helped provide the initial development for the College of Nursing, the Elderhostel activities on the campus, and Harding Place, the University’s retirement community.
"Dr. Jimmy Carr was one of a kind in terms of his leadership for Harding University over many years. He served as assistant to the president for Dr. Ganus and for me. He was an ideas person and a constant public relations genius,” said Dr. David Burks, president of Harding.
“It was Dr. Carr who created the expression that has been used for years, 'It is great to be at Harding.' He was a man of great faith and he was a good friend. He was a visionary leader for Harding University as well as for the community of Searcy. He will be greatly missed."
Following his retirement from Harding in 1997, he served as assistant to the president of White County Medical Center in Searcy. He enjoyed his work at the Medical Center, but at age 95 last year, he decided it was time to permanently retire again. Even in retirement he was an active volunteer at the hospital.
“In his role at White County Medical Center, Dr. Carr was an ambassador for the hospital. He was the face of White County Medical Center in public events and to civic organizations. He had an incredible work ethic, and he has been a role model to me,” said Ray Montgomery, president of the Medical Center.
“Dr. Carr was a true southern gentleman. He was exceptional in the way he related to other people, and he was extremely well respected in the community. Dr. Carr was a very godly man in his deeds and actions. He lived his faith.”
Carr’s enthusiasm was not limited to his work for Harding. He was a proud ambassador for the city of Searcy. Always quick to coin a phrase, he created the slogan, “Searcy, Ark. — A city where thousands live as millions wish they could.”
His involvement in civic activities was known throughout the community. He served in leadership roles and was active in the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Quapaw Council of Boy Scouts, Sunshine School, Sheltered Workshop, United Way, White County Heart Association, Arkansas Kidney Foundation, Arkansas Governor’s Committee on the Handicapped, and the White River Health Planning and Development District.
Among his many honors is the Silver Beaver Award, the prestigious award for adult volunteer service to the Boy Scouts.
He was a member of the College Church of Christ in Searcy, where he served as an elder for many years.
Carr was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Taylor Carr. His wife of 63 years, Mary Stephanie Killgore Carr of Searcy; sons James W. (’70) and wife Susan (’80), and Thomas D. (’78) and wife Lisa (’79), all of Searcy, and John T. (’73) and wife Aletha of Springhill, Tenn.; and nine grandchildren and one great grandchild, survive him.
A memorial service for Carr will be held on Monday, April 6 at 4 p.m. at the College Church of Christ in Searcy. Visitation with the family will follow the memorial service in the Family Room of College Church.
Pallbearers will be relatives John T. Carr Jr. (’05), Jesse T. Carr (’07), James D. Carr, Lance R. Carr, Ty W. Taylor, Taylor B. Carr Jr., Robert G. Carr and Kendel P. Cole.
Memorials may be made to the Carr Scholarship Fund for Nursing at Harding University, African Christian Hospitals (International Health Care Foundation), Boy Scouts of America and White County Medical Foundation.
Condolences and memories may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org or to 801 S. Benton, #4303, Searcy, AR 72143.