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Sarah (Sally) Hughes Carr, 88, of The Hearth in Madison, beloved wife of the late Richard (Dick) S. Carr, Jr., passed away peacefully on Nov. 27 at The Guilford House, taking with her the great love and prayers of family and friends.
The 4th great-granddaughter of John Jay, first chief justice of the Supreme Court, Sally was born in New York City to Arthur Middleton Reeves and Sarah Livingston Jay Hughes. Growing up in New Canaan, she attended the New Canaan Country Day School, and in 1948 graduated cum laude from Abbot Academy (now Phillips Academy Andover) in Andover, Massachusetts. She went on from there to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, class of 1952. On the eve of entering the Sorbonne in Paris for her junior year abroad, Sally made a life-altering decision that she never regretted: to leave college early, in favor of securing a future with her “one and only,” Dick Carr. The following spring, after a whirlwind summer tour of Europe by bicycle and train, and a romantic engagement ring story in post-war London 1950, on April 14, 1951, she wed her lifelong beloved “Dicken,” Richard S. Carr, Jr., at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, New York.
The couple moved to El Dorado, Arizona, where Dick worked as a geologist for Lion Oil Co. The first two children were born before the couple relocated to the East Coast, where three more followed. In 1957, Dick and Sally Carr bought a “fixer-upper” colonial saltbox, now over 300 years old, at 58 Fair St. in Guilford, where they settled and raised their family of three boys and two girls.
Sally loved to sail and was an experienced sailor, raised to it by her Bermuda Racing yachtsman father, for whom she served as “boat boy” during summers, both for pleasure sailing and for racing. She was also a prolific writer—of essays, articles, short stories, and family birthday poems and limericks.
A great lover of music, both sacred and secular, Sally was endowed with a beautiful voice, early on appearing in various roles, along with her husband, in the Gilbert & Sullivan Troupe of the Wilton Choral Club. Later, inspired by her love for God, she sang for decades in the choir at Christ Church Episcopal in Guilford and then at Christ Church Anglican of Branford where she was a founding member, offering inspired devotional solos at Good Friday services well into her 80s.
When she began working in the travel business in the late 1960s as a trainee, she found she had a passion for the work. After many years learning the business, Sally and Dick founded Carr Travel Ltd. in Branford in 1978, which swiftly grew to be one of the largest and most successful agencies on the shoreline. Dick and Sally built their business on Sally’s natural gift for cultivating sincere long-term relationships with airline agents, tour operators, and hoteliers round the world and treating each client as family, each trip as a gift to them—according to their needs and dreams. She ran her business for more than thirty years with the same care for her employees who were as loyal to her as her longtime clients.
Sally served in many capacities in the community. She was a dedicated member of both the Branford Rotary club and Branford Chamber of Commerce, serving both organizations as president. She also served on the Business Advisory Council for S.A.R.A.H. (a non-profit serving people with developmental disabilities) in Guilford. She and Dick were founding members of the Guilford Land Conservation Trust.
Always on the lookout for opportunities to make a real difference, Sally also served on the church vestry, assisted the reverend and the choir master, helped start the first youth music programs for folk music worship services, the first Junior Altar Guild, supported her eldest daughter in becoming the first girl-acolyte to serve in their church, and, together with her husband organized a youth-directed, adult-chaperoned weekly “safe” event at the Christ Church Parish House for local at-risk teenagers during the late 60s and early 70s.
Strays—animals and humans alike—always found room at her table, in her home, and in her heart. In 1975, Sally read about the plight of the “boat people” who had fled war-torn Vietnam and remained homeless, living in camps. Moved by their need, convinced that with God’s help anything can be accomplished, she single-mindedly persuaded the rector and cautious congregation to support first one Vietnamese family, then eventually another and another. Eventually other churches in Guilford and Branford followed her example and family after family were provided a fresh start in life in our community. In time she was able to pass the burden of leadership to a team of enthusiastic parishioners.
In everything she did, Sally’s saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was her motivation and drive. Her gifts as a wife, mother, and grandmother, and her contributions in every direction she turned in her busy life—both on a small scale and on a larger, more daunting scale—were innumerable, the benefit to others immeasurable—never more so than with their beloved daughter Betsy who was severely retarded and considered a gift of God to the family. Though she described herself as shy by nature, she allowed her love and compassion for others to embolden her. She never allowed self-consciousness to govern or limit her actions (even after Parkinson’s disease eventually took a toll on her body in later years). She once confided, after years of being in business, she still shot a quick prayer to God to give her courage and guide her, every time her hand hovered over the phone to make her daily calls.
She will be remembered by many for the way she touched lives, wherever she found herself, with her grace, gentle humor, unfathomable kindness, an inner strength founded on wisdom and faith, and her sincere companionship in times of challenge and celebration alike. She offered in simple humility her caring attention and the warmth of her smile, always striving to think beyond her own personal concerns or comfort, for the good of others. As was said about her own mother “First, and very foremost—she put her loved ones and her love for them right at the center of things.” And Sally’s net of loved ones was cast —eventually—wide and deep.
She is preceded in death by her beloved husband Richard (Dick) S. Carr, Jr., her daughter Elizabeth Deming Carr, and her grandson Wilem Johannes Yorke.
She is much-loved “Mummy” to Richard (Lynne) S. Carr III of Reno, Nevada, David (Espie) B. Carr of Santa Barbara, California, Margaret Carr (Lui) Deák of Reseda, California, and Michael (Lisa) M. Carr of Madison; and forever beloved “Granny” to her ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Sally will be greatly missed and never forgotten.
Friends were invited a visitation at the Guilford Funeral Home, 115 Church St., Guilford, on Dec. 3. Funeral services were held on Dec. 4 at Madison Winter Club, 251 Boston Post Rd., Madison. Burial followed in Westside Cemetery, Three Mile Course, Guilford. To leave a message of condolence, please visit www.GuilfordFuneralHome.com.
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