Just days before he died, New York Times columnist and alumnus David Carr (B.A. ’81) learned that he was the recipient of the 2015 Award for Excellence from the SJMC Alumni Society.
Carr collapsed in the Times newsroom on February 12. He was 58. A survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and addiction, an autopsy revealed that he died of complications from lung cancer, with heart disease a contributing factor.
Carr’s classmate Chris Ison (B.A. ’83), writing in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Murphy Reporter, said, “The national outpouring of grief and gratitude that followed Carr’s death was testimony to his generosity as much as his journalism.” Ison quoted Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” as saying of his mentor, “He taught me to write with every muscle in my body, to pour it out onto the page. To write with confidence, to live with confidence, and with joy, and with passion, and with heart.”
Ison recalled that “Carr often described himself as a mediocre student on the seven-year plan in college. But even during his years at the U he was emerging as a voracious reader and a confident, gifted writer. He freelanced for various small newspapers and magazines, drawing from late nights in bars and long days in government offices to unearth stories hidden from other reporters.” His work landed him the job as editor of the weekly Twin Cities Reader in 1993. He was hired as editor of Washington City Paper in 1995, where he made his mark as an editor, writer, and mentor of young reporters. The Times hired him in 2002.
Carr reported on his own dark past as a cocaine and alcohol addict in his 2008 memoir, Night of the Gun, which became a Times bestseller.
He is survived by his wife, Jill Rooney Carr; daughters Madeleine, Erin, and Meagan; and five siblings.
Photo by Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times/Redux