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Yale 62

John W. Carr

John Carr

Born: May 31, 1940
Died: October 18, 2020

John Carr was born in Memphis, Tennessee, son of Wayne Luther Carr and Dorothy R. Carr. He graduated from Central High School in Memphis and came to Yale “expecting to become a Disciples of Christ minister” as he wrote in our 50th Reunion Book.

John was a resident of Saybrook College where he competed on the swimming and basketball teams. He was an English major, a Ranking Scholar and on Dean’s List. He was a member of Dwight Hall and United Student Fellowship and in the Freshman Chorus. He rowed on the Varsity 150 pound crew.

His senior year he rejected the alternative of further study of English Literature in graduate school and instead attended Yale Law School. After graduation he practiced law for 4 years and then reversed course and returned to school (Stanford Grad School) where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1974. He then embarked on a career teaching English at University of Pennsylvania in 1974.

In 1978 he again changed course and returned to the law, settling in San Francisco and the East Bay. His career was described by classmate Jonathan Ater, a close friend since Freshman Year, and from whose moving tribute your scribe quotes:

“John was my friend for 62 years. As freshmen at Yale we lived across the hall from each other in Vanderbilt. We roomed together in Saybrook (until I married Deanne). In his senior year John met his amazing wife, Christiana Creekpaum, a Vassar student and concert violinist. We shared weekends when they were dating and we attended their wedding in Dwight Chapel the week of law school graduation. They celebrated their 55th anniversary in June 2020.

“John grew up in Memphis in modest circumstances. He became a man of the world both physically and intellectually.”

Jonathan described John’s active life after teaching and the law: “John and Chris traveled the world, often with Yale and Vassar classmates but also by tent and backpack. In middle age when many of us start to relax, he took up long-distance cycling. He loved opera, poetry and great literature. He was known to read Dante with his morning coffee. He was a true scholar with abiding curiosity. For many years Chris and John spent summer weeks sharing Shakespeare and other theater at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In 2018 they moved to Ashland, Oregon as did son Jesse, daughter Emily, and Emily’s three children. John loved those grandkids and they loved him. The family was together in his last days. John had been wearing his favorite cap from Morocco, and after he took his last breath, his grandson Liam gently removed the cap, held it close for a while and then put it on his own head.”

John is survived by his wife, Christiana, whom he met on a blind date arranged by roommate Earl Staelin for the Yale-Harvard football game. He is also survived by his brother James of Memphis, and by his children, Jesse of Ashland and Emily, also of Ashland. He also leaves his beloved grandchildren Liam, Stellan and Elka, all of Ashland.

After his retirement in 2010 John and Christiana left California to reside in Ashland. In addition to long distance cycling they engaged in hiking in the Sierras, off road trails in Colorado and snow shoeing in Yosemite. Christiana described trips to Tahiti, Antarctica and Machu Pichu as among their most memorable travels.

John was interred in the Columbarium of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland.

In addition to Christiana, Jonathan Ater and law school classmate John Sands contributed to this obituary essay.


— Robert G. Oliver
   updated 02/01/2021