September 23, 1923 - February 25, 2021
Eulogy by Minister
Eulogy by David Carr
Eulogy for Robert David Carr
April 16, 2021
September 23, 1923 to February 25, 2021
I will begin with a poem by Goethe:
The thought of death leaves me in perfect peace,
for I have a firm conviction that our spirit
is a being of indestructible nature;
it works on from eternity to eternity,
it is like the sun, which though
it seems to set to our mortal eyes,
does not really set, but shines on perpetually.
I am Elie Levy, Bob’s son-in-law and I knew Bob for 32 years. In summing up a 32 year relationship one of most meaningful memories includes the honor I had of interviewing Bob with a video camera for a couple of hours in October of 2003 while he was in my Veterans Legacy Project class. The interview lasted an hour and forty minutes and I learned so much about Bob’s life beginning with his childhood in Cambridge, being drafted into WW II and his return to civilian life. He was drafted in March of 1943 and he attributes his survival to a St. Christopher medal his neighbor gave him to keep during the war. Bob kept the medal in his wallet the entire time he was overseas. The interview is on my website and I’d encourage all of you to watch it to learn about Bob’s life, including his childhood, college years and return to civilian life. My website is www.elijahlevy.com and his page is titled “Blessed Memory of Robert David Carr.” The video represents a death defying symbol of his righteous life. In sum, he spent 97 years navigating a landscape with occasional tough terrain, hills to climb and easy, flat stretches of road.
Bob was a product of parenting that shaped him to develop soul traits that endeared others to him. Generosity, compassion, humility, integrity and empathy were deeply embedded in his soul. He recalls his parents feeding hungry strangers during the depression and how his father was fortunate to be working during the dark years. Bob learned during his formative, developmental years that strong efforts and not taking short cuts got you desired, meaningful goals. Grit, faith in self and never surrendering to the powerful wind in your face let you discover what raw, innate stuff you possessed. He skipped second grade, showed early giftedness and graduated high school at age 16. He worked at Harvard Medical School for a year as a technician in their lab and this was an early glimpse that led him to teach chemistry. Stability in work, sustaining loving marriages and faithful competence raising four wonderful kids reveals things. Bob lost his first two wives before marrying Beverly. Despite moving through painful losses, he was resilient and showed ultimate self-confidence in his capacity to recover and pursue meaningful living. Bob modeled for all of us what decency, love and a virtuous life could garner you. He was sensitive to the needs of others, compassionate and I saw this in his marriage to Beverly.
Early on, I called on him to come to my house to help me with home repairs. Bob always made time for me and my family. My girls called him Grandpa and they loved him dearly. He made sincere investments in their lives by being present at all of their lifecycle events and was admired for being loving, caring and available. Bob taught chemistry, I’m an instructor – so we shared stories. I know he worked through summers being a taxi driver and taught driver’s education to supplement his income. He raised four wonderful children who equally admired his unyielding desire to be the ultimate economic provider to the family. Bob rarely complained and did his muscle work silently and with a sustained vigor and vital, life force that kept his family living comfortably. I admired his modesty, humility and quiet, yet powerful force to discover all he could about his innate makeup. He’d had a few mini-discoveries early on that landed him in teaching and this represented his true and fitting work for 35 years. Bob shared the joy he experienced mentoring young students. I liken Bob to a lion with a soft voice – a powerful force, yet balanced and measured depending on the situation. Bob was easy to be with and loved teaching me about the war, school and a great fund of knowledge that revealed deep cultural literacy.
After being assessed in the Army, they recognized he was bright and enrolled him in the Army Specialized Training Program where he took college courses at Pasadena City College and earned two years college credit. He completed coursework in March of 1944 before returning to Boston by train to see his family. Bob was in the 93rd Calvary, Mechanized recon. He sailed to England from New York and once in Europe, spent time in France and Southern Germany. Bob remembered the day Germany surrendered, in addition to seeing the horrific images of Holocaust prisoners at Dachau, outside of Munich. In June of 1945, Bob shipped home to continue pursuing school and two marriages before he met Beverly in a bereavement group. I recall that after Beverly lost her beloved Jack, I was meeting with her to convince her to join a bereavement group. Well – she did and these two met and married.
Bob and Beverly loved each other deeply over a 31 year period which included the joy of traveling to China, the Panama Canal, England and parts of America. We vacationed in Hawaii with David and Laurie’s family and this was a very memorable time together. In 2015, the family attended Ken and Rachel’s wedding in Newport, Rhode Island. On that trip, Bob wanted to visit his childhood home in Cambridge and we found the home. It was a sweet moment. Bob took great care of Beverly and the marriage contained the sacred ingredients essential to a sweet, enduring romance.
In ending – I’d like to read a poem by Czeslaw Milosz titled “Awakened”
In advanced age, my health worsening, I woke up in the middle of the night, and experienced a feeling of happiness so intense and perfect that in all my life I had only felt its premonition. And there was no reason for it. It didn’t obliterate consciousness; the past which I carried was there, together with my grief. And it was suddenly included, was a necessary part of the whole. As if a voice were repeating: “You can stop worrying now; everything happened just as it had to. You did what was assigned to you, and you are not required anymore to think of what happened long ago.” The peace I felt was a closing of accounts and was connected with the thought of death. The happiness on this side was like an announcement of the other side. I realized that this was an undeserved gift and I could not grasp by what grace it was bestowed on me.