April 3, 1938-July 1, 2020
Born in Ames, IA
Resided in Lincoln, NE
James “Jim” David Carr
James “Jim” David Carr, loving husband, father and grandfather, award-winning professor, gifted vocalist and one of the nicest gentleman a person could ever meet, died peacefully July 1, 2020. He was 82.
Born April 3, 1938, Jim was the oldest of four children to Donald Carr and Lois (Haning) Carr. He grew up in Ames, Iowa, where he graduated from Ames High and Iowa State University. After spending 6 months in the US Army Signal Corps in New Jersey (and seeing as many Broadway shows as possible), he earned his doctorate in chemistry from Purdue University. After one year of post-doctoral work at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, he moved to Lincoln, where both his parents had grown up, to teach chemistry at the University of Nebraska from 1966 to 2007.
Shortly after arriving, Jim sought out a church choir — singing had been a passion of his since his youth. The organist at First Plymouth Congregational Church invited him to join its choir and, later, Jim became a founding member of the church’s Abendmusik Chorus. Jim, with his illustrious bass voice, was a choir mainstay, at one point becoming its longest-tenured member. At 6-foot-3 with shock of silver hair, he was a striking presence in the choir’s back row. He was known for delivering the “Top 10 One-Liners” to much hilarity at the choir’s annual picnics.
In May 1967, he performed the role of Bellamy in the Lincoln Community Playhouse production of “The Fantasticks.” His performance captured the eye of a young lady in the audience. He and Rosalind Klein began dating and married in June 1968. They raised two daughters: Rebecca and Louise. Jim appeared in or worked backstage in several other playhouse productions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His love of theater continued with support of University Theatre, Nebraska Repertory Theatre and Nebraska Wesleyan University Theatre.
As a professor, he taught freshman chemistry to tens of thousands of undergraduates, mentored many doctoral students and always had a large crowd for his explosive demonstrations at the Big Red Road Show. He received the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award from the NU system in 1996 and the prestigious Doc Elliott Award from UNL in 2015. He co-authored 3 text books, including ‘Analytical Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis’ (Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2010).
As professor emeritus, he continued his science passion, working on the preservation of the USS Arizona, studying the corrosion of steel shipwrecks in a marine environment. He also judged countless science fairs in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.
Jim was a longtime member of the Lincoln Center Kiwanis, where he led the singing at weekly meetings. He also was a member of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society, he had volunteered at Matt Talbot Kitchen since its founding, and was active in support groups for Parkinson’s Disease.
Jim was known for his even-tempered, Fred Rogers-like demeanor; right down to the cardigan sweaters he often wore. He rarely became angry, and if he did, it became a funny story like the time the glove compartment of their 1983 Chevy Celebrity would not latch. In his frustration, he started a phrase and — rather than finishing it in a more colorful way — then broke into song “God … Bless America.” (The glove box was eventually closed with duct tape.)
His family and friends will miss him terribly.
Jim is survived by his wife, Rosalind; daughters Rebecca (Jeff Korbelik) of Lincoln and Louise Baskin (Jon) of Arvada, Colo.; grandchildren Julia and Trevor Baskin of Arvada, Colo.; sister Kathleen “Kit” Struthers of Idaho Falls, Idaho; brothers Robert Carr of Altadena, Calif., and Richard (Jan Van Rees) Carr of Albuquerque, N.M. His parents preceded him in death.
A burial service will be limited to family members. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to NU Foundation for chemistry scholarships, Abendmusik, Michael J. Fox Foundation, or Lincoln Community Playhouse.