Tom Carr, the Founding Director of the White House Fellows Program, passed away on February 12, 2016.
In 1964, while serving as director of the federal government’s executive development programs for the U.S. Civil Service Commission, Tom was selected to design the White House Fellows Program. Together, he and John Gardner designed the key elements of the program – the application and selection process, the direct reporting to Cabinet officers, and the education program – all of which have endured for more than 50 years and nine presidents.
Tom designed the selection process for the White House Fellows to “find the person who will benefit most from the opportunity, the one with the potential to be a gifted leader as opposed to the one already there.” Tom designed the daunting application form and rigorous selection process – including a significant focus on community involvement and a policy memorandum to the President of the United States – with which we are all so familiar.
A member of the very first WHF class, Tom Johnson, offers these reflections: “We who were members of the early classes of White House Fellows owe much to Haskell and Tom Carr. They befriended us, supported us, mentored us and watched over us. They were so proud of the program and of their own role in nurturing us. With the support of John Macy at the Civil Service Commission, and of Bill Moyers and Jack Valenti in the LBJ White House, Tom did his best to assure that we had a good education program, good assignments, and even a good time. I will so miss him.”
In 2013 the White House Fellows Foundation and Association recognized Tom Carr as a “Founding Friend” of the White House Fellows Program.
Tom’s daughter Sara has provided the following remembrance of his life:
Thomas West Carr, 86, of Sullivan’s Island, died Friday, February 12, 2016 after a short illness. He was born in New York City in 1929, the son of Captain Henry M. Carr, Sr., USNR, and Sara Gatewood West of Richmond, VA. A service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 20, at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Charleston.
Tom lived in an old oceanfront house on Sullivan’s Island with his wife of 63 years, the former Haskell Grimball of Charleston, and his wired-haired terrier. He was visited regularly by his three kids and six grandchildren.
A “Distinguished Military Graduate” of the Citadel in 1950, Tom also received a Master’s Degree from George Washington University, and was a visiting fellow in Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
He retired three times: from the military, from government service, and from education.
He served as an artillery forward observer in combat in Korea, 1950-51, and later commanded four different artillery units in the US and Europe, before being retired for physical disability.
He was selected as Founding Director of the White House Fellows program in 1964, and later as the first Director of Defense Education in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, responsible for service academies, war colleges, ROTC and other DOD-sponsored education. He was the Director of the National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children, appointed by the President in 1966. During his time at Princeton, He also acted as New Jersey State Chairman of the National Committee for the Support of Public Schools.
He retired again and served 12 years as Vice President of The Washington Campus, a 17-university consortium established to help business leaders better understand government. Upon retirement from the Campus, he was named an Honorary Board Member.
Tom was a member of the Cosmos Club of Washington, the Carolina Yacht Club, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, The Charleston Ancient Artillery Society, and the Piping and Marching Society of Lower Chalmers Street. He served as a mentor for an inner-city fifth grader, volunteered for the Salvation Army and “Meals on Wheels”, was a member of various Rotary Club committees, and served as a tour guide at St. Michael’s Church. He enjoyed playing tennis and his weekly poker game.
He is survived by his wife, Haskell Grimball Carr of Sullivan’s Island; his brother, Henry M. Carr, Jr. of Fairfax, VA; his sister-in-law, Jane Grimball Greely of Falmouth, ME; his son, Arthur Grimball Carr (Elizabeth) of Washington, DC; his daughter, Sara Gatewood Karaus of Lynchburg, VA; his grandchildren, Katherine Bachman Karaus of Pittsburgh, PA; Thomas West Carr, III of Charleston; Amy Maria Carr of Charleston; Benjamin Vail Karaus of Norwalk, CT; Jasper Vuthy Carr of Washington, DC; Bandith Cooper Carr of Washington, DC; many nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. He was predeceased by his son, Thomas West Carr, Jr. (Anne), former Fire Chief of Charleston; and by his dog, Edgar.