By Tony Hooker
To me, a dyed in the wool bookworm by my early grade school years, he was a larger than life superhero.
Thanks to my uncle Bill, I was able, as a fifth and sixth grader, to be close to his son Brian and his teammates in all sports, whom I idolized, and this gave us common ground.
Along with uncle “gopher”, a nickname which I never used when referring to him, Pat Carr had a great deal of influence on my life. Never a good athlete, (although I’m pretty fair as a bowler) my focus shifted very early to the statistical side of athletic competition. Mr. Carr nurtured that in me. In fact, his P.A.R.S. (points, assists, rebounds, steals) way of collecting data is still something I use to judge a basketball player’s total impact on a game.
Of course, his unique perspective wasn’t limited just to sports, although the exploits of his athletic children were a constant source of pride. His imagination knew no bounds, and his library was a haven of fun things to do that enhanced learning. Puzzles, games, multimedia before it was hip. All of these things were used in his space, helping knuckleheads like me learn, even when we didn’t know we were doing so.
His love for life and for the people who inhabited him was legendary. Many people were touched by his poetry, regardless of whether it was commemorating a joyous life even or a sad one. Paraphrasing his obituary in the News-Gazette , it was true that Mr. Carr understood the journey of life, and this understanding brought empathy for those whose paths he crossed.
Mr. Carr, although often content to witness the exploits of his children, and later his grandchildren, on the playing fields or courts, would often use his expertise to enhance the experience for all. Mr. Carr wrote programs, reported on games, kept detailed stats, announced games and otherwise made things more enjoyable.
Mr. Carr, who graduated from Hume High School, earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University, and a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois. It was Villa Grove School, however, that he came to love and fittingly, his final wishes were for donations to be made to the Pat Carr Scholarship fund in lieu of flowers. Always an avid supporter of VGHS in life, Mr. Carr and his family will continue to support the students of Villa Grove in the future, a fitting tribute to a man who spent 44 years of his life as a beloved member of the faculty.
Keeper of words and knowledge.
To know you was a privilege.
I wish I had expressed my appreciation.
I’m sure in heaven there’s quite a celebration.
Reunited now with your loving wife.
Thank you for gracing our lives.
I know that these words pale in comparison to those that he wrote, but I think he would have appreciated the effort.
James Patrick Carr impacted generations of students. He was 87 years old when he passed.