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Vanderbilt Board member, Children’s Hospital namesake Monroe Carell dies

Jun. 20, 2008, 10:26 AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Monroe J. Carell Jr., a Nashville executive admired as much for his generous philanthropy, especially in support of Vanderbilt University, as for his business acumen, died peacefully at home today after a courageous battle with cancer.

The former chairman and chief executive officer of Central Parking Corporation provided strong volunteer leadership for Vanderbilt initiatives and numerous other charitable causes throughout the community.

"I am completely saddened by Monroe’s death but celebrate his phenomenal life and the towering legacy he leaves," said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. "I cannot overstate the impact he has had on Vanderbilt’s past, present and future. Through his leadership on the Board of Trust and enormous philanthropic generosity, Monroe established one of the finest children’s hospitals in the country and created scholarships that changed the lives of students.

"He led Vanderbilt’s Shape the Future campaign with a vigor and passion that only he could possess, and he challenged all of us to reach higher in our goals for this great university. He was a powerful and inspiring presence in the life of this university, and his deep mark on Vanderbilt will endure for generations to come. I will miss working with him, and I especially will miss our close personal friendship."

A member of Vanderbilt University’s Board of Trust since 1991, Carell and his wife, Ann, have long supported various segments of the university, including undergraduate education, the children’s hospital that now bears his name, the school of medicine and athletics. At the time of his death, he was leading the comprehensive, university-wide Shape the Future campaign, which has experienced unprecedented success.

He also served on the Vanderbilt Medical Center Board and the Board of Overseers for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and was an honorary lifetime member of the Board of Directors of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

"Monroe Carell was devoted to Vanderbilt University," said Martha R. Ingram, chairman of the Board of Trust. "When we decided in 1998 to have a new campaign, he stepped up and said, ‘Martha, if you’ll let me, I’d like to lead the campaign.’ Of course, not only did he volunteer to do it, but he did it beautifully and we have reached new heights because of his leadership. During that process, he became a very good friend as well as associate and fellow board member, and I will surely miss him."

The Shape the Future campaign was publicly launched in 2003 with a goal of $1.25 billion. In late 2006, the Board of Trust voted to increase the goal to $1.75 billion in anticipation of reaching the original goal two years ahead of schedule. A secondary goal of $100 million in bequests was reached in 2007, and the Board of Trust, at Carell’s request, raised the bequest goal to $150 million. The campaign is scheduled to close Dec. 31, 2010.

When the Shape the Future campaign reached a $1 billion milestone in September 2004, an editorial in The Tennessean stated, "It is Vanderbilt’s spending of the money – not its raising of it – that should most impress this city," noting that the campaign priorities included need-based scholarships, faculty chairs and residential colleges.

Carell’s gifts to Vanderbilt included the Ann and Monroe Carell Jr. Family Chair in Pediatric Cardiology and the Carell Scholarship Fund. Perhaps his most significant commitment to Vanderbilt was his leadership of the campaign to raise $50 million to help establish a new Children’s Hospital, which previously had been housed within Vanderbilt University Hospital. The resulting free-standing facility, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, which opened in 2004, is recognized as one of the top pediatric teaching, research and treatment institutions in the nation. After the initial goal was met, Carell continued his efforts to raise funds to expand the facility and its programs.

In all, some $79 million has been committed to the Children’s Hospital as a result of the Carells’ generosity as well as Monroe Carell’s personal fund-raising efforts and leadership.

"Monroe will be forever known for his strong commitment and incredible generosity to his Children’s Hospital and to the children and families it serves," Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for health affairs, said. "I could not be more grateful to him and his family for the tireless dedication and service to Vanderbilt throughout the years. He was a true leader, and I am proud to have called him a friend. His legacy will live on in the lives of the countless children he helped to improve through the hospital that bears his name."

Dr. Kevin B. Churchwell, chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital, said, "Monroe Carell Jr. means everything to this hospital. He was our champion and benefactor, our greatest supporter and biggest fan. His commitment and vision, not only his financial support, have made this hospital the place to come for quality health care. He led by example and it’s a true example of how we should live our lives as servant leaders."

A 1959 cum laude graduate of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering, Carell received the school’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001. The native Nashvillian served in the Navy before enrolling at Vanderbilt, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Carell was chief engineer with the Duck River Electrical Membership Cooperative before agreeing to go to work for his father and a business partner at Central Parking in 1967.

A licensed professional engineer, Carell said he applied engineering problem-solving principles to learn about his father’s business and then to grow and supervise the premier parking management firm for some 40 years. He also credited the high standards expected of Vanderbilt students, including the university’s honor code, as contributing to his professional success.

"I got a wonderful education at Vanderbilt," Carell said. "In addition to engineering, I got an education in life, integrity, hard work, a lot of good attributes that have served me well over time. I’ll always be indebted to Vanderbilt."

Central Parking, which had 10 parking lots in Nashville and Atlanta when Carell began work there, is now the world’s largest parking services provider with more than 4,000 parking facilities. Central Parking was sold by Carell to a group of private equity firms in 2007. He resigned at that time as executive chairman, and Carell and his family formed Carell LLC, a real estate investment company. He said he looked forward to devoting more time to philanthropy, especially with regards to helping children.

In 1998, Carell established a fund to provide a total of eight full-tuition scholarships to Vanderbilt students each year. The Carell Scholarships are for excellent, hard-working students, engaged in their community and committed to the broadening experience of working while in college.

Among the requirements for the program are working a minimum of two months each summer and working a limited number of hours during the school year. Throughout his college career, Carell held a variety of jobs, including working for Central Parking, the Army Corps of Engineers and Western Electric.

"Any job I could get, it gave me a chance to understand and appreciate other people’s situation," he said. With his scholarship support, he extended that opportunity to Vanderbilt students. Job-related involvement with the rest of the community is "part of the education and maturing process," he said. "It gives them the opportunity to be involved with people outside their family and school environment."

In 2006, the Carell Scholarship Fund was expanded to include a baseball scholarship. There are now 20 Carell Scholars and two Monroe J. Carell Jr. Baseball Scholars; 14 have graduated and eight are still students. In addition, a new Carell Scholar will enter Vanderbilt this fall.

Carell’s contributions to the community have resulted in a number of prestigious recognitions. In 2004 the Tennessee Hospital Association awarded him its Meritorious Service Award for philanthropist/volunteer. He received the sixth annual Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award from the Community Foundation in 2000. A devout Catholic, Carell also was made a Knight of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II. Just this past spring, Carell was named Nashvillian of the Year by Easter Seals Tennessee and was honored at a special ceremony May 20.

Carell and his family provided a new library at the Harpeth Hall School, and were founders of the Pope John Paul II High School and the Ensworth High School.

They established the Dogwood Garden and a permanent outdoor sculpture trail at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. The Carell family’s giving also included a new chapel, with beautiful stained glass windows made in Europe, for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, as well as renovation and expansion of the St. Cecilia Motherhouse.

Carell served as a board member for Cheekwood, a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and a former director of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. His civic leadership included serving on the Board of Governors for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and chairing the Nashville Downtown Partnership.

He is survived by his wife, the former Julia Ann Scott, who is a graduate of Peabody College, and three children, Julia Stadler, wife of George B. Stadler; Edith Johnson, wife of David B. Johnson, and Kathryn Brown, wife of David H. Brown; and six grandchildren, Vanderbilt student Claire Stadler, Monroe Stadler, Carell Brown, Nicholas Brown, William Johnson and Ann Scott Johnson. He is also survived by his brother, James W. Carell.

Visitation with the family will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 22, at the Fleming Center at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, 2015 West End Ave., followed by a public memorial service to celebrate Monroe Carell’s life. A private funeral and mass for the family will be held at the St. Cecilia Chapel, with burial at Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the Carell family asks that memorial donations be made to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Gift Records Office, VU Station B 357727, Nashville, TN 37235-7727, or the St. Cecilia Congregation, Development Office, 801 Dominican Drive, Nashville, TN 37228-1909.

Media contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, 615-322-NEWS