Dr. John J. Carey (1931 - 2017)

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Dr. John Jesse Carey, also known affectionately as "Big J" and "Big Papa," passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early morning of March 2, 2017, at a Duke hospice facility in Durham, N.C. His health had been declining for several years, but he held on until all five of his daughters could be with him in his final days. Dr. Carey had a robust and rewarding life of academic, athletic and professional accomplishments over his 85-year lifetime. Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind., he was the first in his family to go to college. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke in 1953. He also served as the defensive captain of the 1952 Duke team, which won the championship of the Southern Conference and was named to various All-Southern and All-American teams. In his senior year, he was the recipient of the Robert E. Lee Award, which was awarded to the Duke student "who in leadership and scholarship, manly virtues and athletic ability most nearly realizes the standards of the ideal student." He also received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, awarded to the student judged to have rendered the greatest service to the university and the community; and the Thomas Arkle Clark Award of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, which is given to the most outstanding ATO undergraduate in the nation. Following his Duke graduation, he entered the Yale Divinity School and received his B.D. and S.T.M. degrees in 1956 and 1957. He received his Ph.D. from Duke in 1965, and conducted post-doctoral research and work at several institutions around the U.S. and the world. He was a founder of the North American Paul Tillich Society, a member of the American Academy of Religion and a 20 year consultant to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Dr. Carey began his career at the University Chaplain at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. The majority of Dr. Carey's professional career was spent at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., where from 1960 to 1986 he served in a variety of positions including University Chaplain, Professor of Religion, Dean of Students, Vice President for Student Affairs, Chair of the Department of Religion and Director of Graduate Studies in Religion. From 1986 to 1988, he served as President of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C. In 1988, he returned to the academic side of higher education by accepting an appointment as the Pendergrass Professor of Religion at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla. In 1989, he joined the faculty of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., as the Wallace M. Alston Professor of Bible and Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion. He retired from Agnes Scott in 1999. In 2000, Dr. Carey accepted a post-retirement calling to serve as Interim Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Anchorage, Alaska, and taught for the Philosophy Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He served Immanuel at different times through 2009. Over the course of his career Dr. Carey wrote or edited 12 books and more than 60 scholarly articles. He was an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and chaired the Presbyterian Committee on Human Sexuality from 1988-1991, an experience which resulted in appearances on the ABC television shows Good Morning America and Nightline. He helped, mentored and encouraged hundreds of students and colleagues over the course of his academic career, and inspired hundreds more with his passionate dedication and leadership in the areas of peace studies, women's issues and the rights and dignity due to gay and lesbian people. In the words of one of his nephews, he was a lion of a progressive and the hero of many. His family will remember him as a warm-hearted teddy bear of a man who loved dogs, the Florida State Seminoles, all college sports and ice cream, and had an infinite supply of love, encouragement, support and good humor. Words cannot capture how much he will be missed. Dr. Carey is survived by his wife of 47 years, Mary Charlotte McCall of Chapel Hill, N.C., and their loving and loyal dog, Pookie; his sister, Mary Louise Whitmore of Cedarburg, Wis.; his five daughters, Sarah Kathryn Carey (Chad Hunsaker) of Gainesville, Fla., Marylynn Carey of Tallahassee, Fla., Beth Ann Carey of Tallahassee, Fla., Joanna Carey Cleveland (Sam Cleveland) of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Jessica Carey Graham (Jason Graham) of Anchorage, Alaska; and his five grandchildren, to whom he was always known as "Big Papa," Jada Marina Graham (14), Jolie Cay Graham (13), Jersey Meridian Graham (11), John Carey ("Jack") Cleveland (8) and Susanna Elizabeth Cleveland (5). He also is survived by his first wife and longtime friend, Sally Stanback Malloy, of Tallahassee, Fla. Celebration of Life services will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Fla., on April 22, 2017, and at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Anchorage, Alaska, on June 3, 2017. The family encourages all those who loved and cared about Dr. Carey to honor him by acting with kindness, compassion and humility to all. Please also consider a donation to an organization that works for the causes that mattered most to him, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Doctors Without Borders and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
Religious Service Information
First Presbyterian Church
110 N Adams St
Tallahassee, FL 32301
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on Mar. 12, 2017