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W. ROBERT CARR Jr.

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W. ROBERT CARR Jr. Obituary
CARR, W. Robert Jr. Lawyer, Historian, Public Servant W. Robert Carr, Jr., a lawyer, historian, and public servant in Marshfield and Hingham, died November 21 from complications of Parkinson's Disease. He was 78. Robert was born in Big Sandy, Texas, the son of a railroad man and of a teacher, and grew up in Dallas. In his youth, he was active in the Disciples of Christ Church, becoming an accomplished pianist and organist, and graduating from Texas Christian University in 1960. In 1967, he earned a PhD in History from Harvard University, specializing in British and American intellectual history with a focus on the political, religious, and social thought of John Stuart Mill. On a Fulbright Scholarship to Cambridge University in England, he met his wife-to-be, Kathleen Frost. They married in 1965 and settled in the Boston area. Robert taught history at Harvard from 1966 to 1972 and at the University of Wisconsin from 1972 to 1975. Having decided on a career change, he earned a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1978, and practiced law in Boston for 30 years, first at the firm of Gaston Snow & Ely Bartlett and later at Gadsby Hannah, retiring in 2008. A strong believer in the value of public institutions, education, and affordable housing, Robert worked chiefly in the area of public finance, helping clients such as the University of Massachusetts Building Authority, the City of Boston and the Boston Housing Development Corporation, and the New Hampshire and Nashua Housing Authorities, finance development projects related to education and housing. Robert carried his belief in the value of education and affordable housing into public service. He served on the Stoughton, Wisconsin, School Committee from 1973 to 1975 and on the Hingham School Committee from 1982 to 1991. An excellent teacher himself, he was known as a strong advocate of high-quality teaching. In Marshfield, Robert chaired the Marshfield Housing Partnership, working to increase the availability of affordable housing. The program he helped create is seen as a model for developing affordable housing in other communities. Robert never lost his love of history and remained active in historical preservation. While teaching history at the University of Wisconsin, he led a successful movement to preserve the Luke Stoughton House, home of the founder of Stoughton, Wisconsin. He was a member of the Council of Historic New England, and also chaired the editorial advisory committee of the Hingham Historical Commission, overseeing and editing Not All is Changed, a history of Hingham published in 1992. As chairman of the Committee to Save Phillips Farm, 40 acres of woodland and field slated for development in North Marshfield, Robert was chosen as Marshfield Citizen of the Year in 1999, an honor he shared with his wife, Kathleen. For many years, he and his family lived in the historic Byrd-Lapham House on Union Street in Marshfield, adding a permanent easement to the property to protect its historic character. Robert brought much from his childhood in the south to his life in New England. He maintained his love of music, serving as organist for three years at the Marshfield Community Church, and he inherited a life-long love of railroads from his father. He was a dedicated cultivator of vegetables, and to the amusement of his friends, never gave up trying to make such southern specialties as collard greens and okra grow in stony, frosty Massachusetts. He was a faithful member of a group of transplanted southerners who annually celebrated SNYDD -- Southern New Year's Day Dinner -- where his okra was often on the menu. To family and friends, Robert was known for his wit, erudition, warmth, sociability, and sterling character. Notwithstanding his intellectual and professional achievements, he was without pretense or arrogance, always proud of his roots in east Texas. Robert and his family lived in Hingham from 1979 to 1992 and in Marshfield from 1992 until his death. He leaves his wife, Kathleen; a son, Tim, and his wife Veronica Vazquez, of Kents Hill, Maine, and their children, Malachi, Simon, and Beatrice Vazquez-Carr; also a daughter, Susannah Carr, and her husband, Rob Roy Smith, and their daughter, Madeline Smith, of Seattle, Washington. He loved them all. Burial will be in the Hingham Cemetery behind Old Ship Church. A memorial service will be held at a future date. Memorial gifts may be made to Boston Medical Center, Parkinson's Research Fund, c/o Development Office, 801 Massachusetts Avenue 1st Floor, Boston, MA 02118 or online at www.bmc.org/giving [choose 'Giving Search Page,' and enter 'Parkinson's' under 'Fund Type.'] Downing Cottage Funeral Chapel www.downingchapel.com

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Published in The Boston Globe on Nov. 23, 2016
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