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John C. Carson


1927 - 2019 Obituary Condolences Gallery
John C. Carson Obituary

John C. Carson
January 10, 1927 - April 17, 2019
La Jolla -
John C. Carson, husband of 65 years to Elizabeth Hill Carson, and beloved to five children and 18 grandchildren, died at age 92, in his La Jolla home of 59 years on April 17, 2019. Dr. Carson practiced cardiology at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla in a career spanning half a century.Born in 1927 in Wichita, Kansas, into a happy book filled home, Dr. Carson was the youngest of six children. His father, Frank Lee Carson, was named President of the First National Bank of Wichita in that same year and was chairman of the Board at the time of his death in 1952.Dr. Carson was a 1945 graduate of the Taft School in Watertown, CT, and went directly into the US Army in that year. His devotion to Taft has been a lifetime commitment, and he credits that experience with his introduction into the world of scholarship. Basic training in the US Army was in "The City of Roses" - Tyler, Texas, Camp Fannin - and after that to Fort Sam, Houston, Texas, as a clerk typist. Finding that there was a 4th army area medical laboratory technicians' school, his commanding officer, Lt. Col. James Chittim, arranged for his admission. Thus, at age 18 years, he became a certified lab technician and went to work at Fort Sam harvesting egg yolks to produce typhus vaccine.His discharge from the US Army in October 1946, was too late to enter Yale University that year. His father suggested a typing course, the completion of which provided him a lifelong skill that former patients, friends, and family enjoyed through notes often in all capital letters, expertly dispatched on his vintage Selectric typewriter. He subsequently typed his way through Yale, the army and medical school. In 1948, he and Elizabeth Hill of Des Moines were "forced to meet" by his uncle, Paul Congleton Carson, and her father, Lee Forest Hill, who trained together in Boston after WWI, on a blind date that was an immediate success. He returned to Yale in 1949, determined to see Elizabeth Hill as much as possible. Her father suggested that he delay admission to the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania and finish the fourth year at Yale, allowing him to complete an English major. This was an important decision leading to Dr. Carson's study of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, etc. that continued throughout his life. He and Elizabeth Hill were married on Valentine's Day 1954. Their honeymoon was driving from Des Moines to Philadelphia, where she had finished at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1953. For the next five years, he was an intern, medical resident and cardiology fellow at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He looked upon those years with great pleasure and pride.After a year spent in Kansas at the Kansas University Medical Center, his Professor, E. Grey Dimond, asked him to come to the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, and help set up a new cardiovascular center. He and Elizabeth arrived in La Jolla in 1960 with three children and worried about raising them in "rootless" Southern California. They both came to love their new home on Soledad Avenue and subsequently welcomed two more children to the family. In 1962, Dr. Carson left the Scripps Clinic and joined David B. Carmichael in establishing the Specialty Medical Clinic. The group flourished and ultimately grew to include 32 partners, all headquartered at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.In 1958, he began a 48 year tenure as the July physician at Lake Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, halfway between NYC and Albany. The Carson family has continued to go there every summer for a cherished annual gathering of all family members. Dr. Carson cultivated many of his interests at Lake Mohonk, including antiquing and booking at local flea markets, jogging, tennis, garden walks, early morning lake swims and of course, wildly competitive Scrabble games. Boxes of "treasures" collected from Mohonk and environs would annually arrive at La Jolla, creating a home filled both with a vast and eclectic book collection and also a trove of curiosities that included the world's largest known collection of antique potato mashers and a civil war era bullet mold.With the advent of UCSD's Medical school in 1962, Dr. Carson joined the teaching program, and in 1984, was appointed a Clinical Professor of Medicine. He continued in the practice of internal medicine and cardiology until 2014. Scripps dedicated a study in his honor, where he donated his medicinal books, stamps, and memorabilia. Throughout the rest of his life, he rarely missed Grand Rounds at the hospital and maintained the historical lobby display at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. One of his lifelong passions was book collecting, and he was a member and former President of the Zamorano Club of Los Angeles and the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS); he was also a member of the Grolier Club of New York.Sir William Osler was one of his heroes in the practice of clinical medicine; he joined the American Osler Society in 1986, and was President in 2001. He presented a number of papers to that society through the years including his 2002 address, "A Personal Oslerian Pathway."Dr. Carson is survived by his wife of 65 years, Elizabeth "Libby" Hill Carson; his daughter, Elizabeth Carson Pastan (Stephen) of Atlanta, GA, and a Professor of Art History at Emory University; son, John Carson Jr. (Suki) of St. Petersburg, FL, and President of Raymond James Financial; son, Lee Hill Carson (Glenna) of Ross, CA, and a partner of the Carlyle Group; son, David Bradford Carson (Regina) of Roanoke, VA, and a Circuit Court Judge; daughter, Barbara Carson Edwards (Scott) of La Jolla, CA, and development director for the Rancho Santa Fe School District, and 18 grandchildren. Of his five siblings, he derived great joy from visiting with the other remaining family members, sister, Virginia Garver, age 99 years, of Wichita, Kansas, along with a number of nieces and nephews each of whom he cherished.The family is grateful to Drs. Ernest Pund, Doug Brown, David Meyer and also to caregivers Judy Ngema and Eric Young.A celebration of John Carson's life will be held at the Schaetzel Center of Scripps, 9890 Genesee Avenue, La Jolla, at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, 2019. A Tribute Fund in memory of Dr. Carson has been established at Scripps Health Foundation to benefit Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Donations may be sent by mail to Scripps Health Foundation, P.O. Box 2669, La Jolla, CA, 92038-2669. Please include Dr. Carson Tribute Fund in the memo line, or on-line at www.scripps.org/giving
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Published in La Jolla Light on Apr. 25, 2019
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