Volume 79, Number 02 | June 17 - 23, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Obituary

Raymond Carroll, 84, editor at Newsweek, prolific author

By Paul A. Carroll

Raymond J. Carroll, a Newsweek editor, author and longtime Village resident, died at his Prince St. home on May 16. He was 84.

A prolific writer on foreign affairs, he was the author of four books for Franklin Watts Publishers: on the Caribbean, Palestine, the United Nations and on Anwar Sadat of Egypt. He also worked for Reader’s Digest publications on articles on American Indians, Eskimos, Vietnam, the life of Zoroaster and the life of Saint Patrick. His last book, co-authored with Richard J. Berenson, was a Central Park guidebook published by Barnes & Noble in 1999.

Ray Carroll was also a regular local theatergoer, attending many productions at Pearl Theater Co. and the Jean Cocteau Repertory Theater with his companion of 30 years, the anthropologist and writer Helen E. Fisher. His photo hung in the window of Rocco’s Spring St. barbershop for many years, until 2008.

He was born in Brooklyn in 1924. His mother, Margaret McCarthy Carroll, was a social worker in the 1930s, living to the age of 95. His father, Raymond, ran for public office against “the Machine” but never won. His older sister, Virginia, was a double Dutch jump rope champion in the 1930s, and survives him.

He went to Boys High in Brooklyn and enlisted in the Army in World War II, serving in the Pacific and surviving a devastating hurricane on Okinawa, where he was stationed. He later recalled returning after the war on a ship entering San Francisco Bay and seeing Alcatraz inmates standing in their island prison waving and cheering the returning soldiers.

He received a B.A. degree in political science from Hamilton College on the G.I. Bill and later studied at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. During this period Carroll became friends with the actor Peter Falk and the filmmaker Preston Collins and spent many hours at the White Horse Tavern among a circle of friends that included the poet Delmore Schwartz.

In the early 1950s he moved to Washington, D.C., where he owned a bookstore, Cadmus Books. Not finding the Jim Crow environment in D.C. congenial, he moved to New York City where he married Ann Starck. They had two children and lived for many years in the West Village until their divorce in the mid-1970s. Ann Carroll, who survives, worked in New York University President James Hester’s office and later became general secretary of the New York Yacht Club.

Raymond J. Carroll served for many years as United Nations bureau chief for Newsweek, interviewing many world leaders, including the very young Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, along with her father. He also helped edit the early bestselling books of his companion, Helen Fisher.

After years of boozy diplomatic receptions and writers’ powwows at the Hotel Berkshire bar, he quit drinking cold turkey more than 25 years ago. Nevertheless, he retained a charming capacity to break out into song and quote poetry almost until the end.

In addition to his former wife and his companion, an older sister, Virginia; a son, Paul Adem Carroll, executive director of the Muslim Consultative Network, based at Judson Memorial Church; and a daughter, Suzanne Carroll Anderson, office manager of the accounting firm Raich Ende Malter, also survive. 

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