James “Jim” David Carr, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, died July 1. He was 82.
Carr was born on April 3, 1938, as 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 six months in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in New Jersey, he earned his doctorate in chemistry from Purdue University. After one year of postdoctoral work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he moved to Lincoln, where both his parents had grown up, to teach chemistry at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln from 1966 to 2007.
In May 1967, Carr performed the role of Bellamy in the Lincoln Community Playhouse production of “The Fantasticks.” His performance captured the eye of audience member Rosalind Klein, who he began dating and married in June 1968. They raised two daughters, Rebecca and Louise.
Carr 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, Carr taught first-year 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 the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2015.
He also co-authored three textbooks, including “Analytical Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis.” As professor emeritus, he worked 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.
Carr 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, the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and the East Campus Neighborhood Association. Carr volunteered at Lincoln’s Matt Talbot Kitchen since its founding, was active in support groups for Parkinson’s Disease and was a longtime member of the First Plymouth Congregational Church’s choir.
Jim is survived by his wife, Rosalind; daughters Rebecca (Jeff Korbelik) of Lincoln and Louise Baskin (Jon) of Arvada, Colorado; grandchildren Julia and Trevor Baskin of Arvada; sister Kathleen “Kit” Struthers of Idaho Falls, Idaho; brothers Robert Carr of Altadena, California, and Richard (Jan Van Rees) Carr of Albuquerque, New Mexico. 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 the NU Foundation for chemistry scholarships, Abendmusik, the Michael J. Fox Foundation or the Lincoln Community Playhouse.