June 27, 2008

Children’s Hospital champion mourned

Featured Image

Monroe Carell Jr. on the staircase of the Vanderbilt hospital that bears his name. (photo by Neil Brake)

Children’s Hospital champion mourned

Monroe Carell Jr. holds patient Emma Tummins during a visit to the NICU in May. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Monroe Carell Jr. holds patient Emma Tummins during a visit to the NICU in May. (photo by Dana Johnson)

More than 100 people turned out for two memorial services held earlier this week at Children’s Hospital. (photo by Anne Rayner)

More than 100 people turned out for two memorial services held earlier this week at Children’s Hospital. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Carell, right, helps during the transfer of patients to the newly opened Children’s Hospital in 2004. Also accompanying first patient Gary Ellis are, from left, Champ, Harry Jacobson, M.D., and former Children’s Hospital CEO Jim Shmerling. (photo by Neil Brake)

Carell, right, helps during the transfer of patients to the newly opened Children’s Hospital in 2004. Also accompanying first patient Gary Ellis are, from left, Champ, Harry Jacobson, M.D., and former Children’s Hospital CEO Jim Shmerling. (photo by Neil Brake)

Ann and Monroe Carell Jr. at the ribbon cutting for the new Children’s Hospital. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Ann and Monroe Carell Jr. at the ribbon cutting for the new Children’s Hospital. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Community leader and philanthropist Monroe Carell Jr., whose generosity and passion for the health of children led to the building of one of the nation's top children's hospitals, died June 20. He was 76.

Mr. Carell, along with his wife, Ann, was a staunch supporter and contributor to many areas at Vanderbilt and beyond, but is perhaps best known for the legacy he leaves as the namesake of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

“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,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “I could not be more grateful to him and his family for the tireless dedication and service to Vanderbilt throughout the years.”

At Sunday’s funeral service at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Jacobson said fierce devotion — to his family, his business and, especially, to children — was one of Mr. Carell’s defining characteristics.

“Rare indeed is the man who is both tough and tender. And rarer still is the man who can be both at once,” Jacobson said.

A renowned businessman, Mr. Carell was the founder of Central Parking Corporation, the world's largest parking corporation, where he sat at the helm for more than four decades before its sale in 2007. He was a Nashville native who served in the Navy before enrolling in Vanderbilt's School of Engineering. He graduated in 1959, the first in his family to receive a college degree, and was named a distinguished alumnus of the school in 2001.

At the Children's Hospital, Mr. Carell served as an honorary lifetime member of the Board of Directors. He led the first two phases of the campaign to build the new, freestanding children's hospital, which opened in 2004.

“Monroe Carell Jr. means everything to this hospital. He was our champion and benefactor, greatest supporter and biggest fan,” said Kevin Churchwell, M.D., chief executive officer of Children's Hospital. “His commitment, not only his financial support, has 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.”

As a child, Mr. Carell was hospitalized many times and has said his illness and subsequent recovery motivated him to help children's causes. His motivation also stems from his own good fortune of having three healthy grown daughters and his six grandchildren.

His daughter, Julie Stadler, is following in her father's footsteps as she and her husband, George, are leading the effort to help raise funds for the future expansion of Children's Hospital.

Mr. Carell was deeply touched by all children in the hospital, and it was not uncommon for him to be brought to tears when speaking publicly about the Children's Hospital and its patients. Over the years, he became particularly drawn to the infants being treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Marlee Crankshaw, R.N., manager of the NICU and Newborn Services at Children's Hospital, met Mr. Carell nearly 20 years ago while speaking to the Friends of Children's Hospital organization about the NICU and its patients. She and Mr. Carell developed a close friendship over the past two decades.

“He came up to me after I finished speaking, and asked what he could do to help. He's come through for us ever since,” Crankshaw said.

Mr. Carell contacted Crankshaw on a regular basis asking to visit the NICU. He would discreetly arrive at the building named to honor him at least once a month, and walk the long halls that make up the fourth floor of the hospital. Then he would find his way into the quiet rooms of the NICU to visit the infants and their families at the bedside. There he reveled at their tiny size and relished the rare moments in which he could gently hold infants well enough to leave their crib.

After his last visit to the NICU in May he said, “A baby is probably God's best work. You see them here as infants fighting to stay alive…they bring such happiness to everyone, they unify and also challenge. I have a real love for all of them.”

The Division of Pediatric Cardiology at Vanderbilt is another area in which Mr. Carell has left an imprint. In 1985, the family established an endowed chair, the Ann and Monroe Carell Family Chair of Pediatric Cardiology, first held by Thomas P. Graham, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus. Thomas Doyle, M.D., professor of Pediatric Cardiology, is the second and current chair holder.

At Vanderbilt, Mr. Carell was chairman of the Shape the Future campaign, the largest campaign in Vanderbilt's history, and has served as a member of Vanderbilt's Board of Trust since 1991. He also served on the Vanderbilt Medical Center Board and on the Board of Overseers for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

“I am completely saddened by Monroe's death but celebrate his phenomenal life and the towering legacy he leaves. I cannot overstate the impact he has had on Vanderbilt's past, present and future,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos. “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,” Zeppos said.

Mr. Carell told the Vanderbilt Register in 2004 about his role as chair of the campaign, “If you've been fortunate, you should share it. It seems very simple to me. Taking it with you — or holding on to it — doesn't bring you any more happiness.”

The Carells were also involved with assisting the educational endeavors of Vanderbilt undergraduates through the Carell Scholarship Fund they established. 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.

Mr. Carell has received numerous honors for his philanthropy which extends beyond Vanderbilt and has touched many organizations throughout the city and around the country.

This spring, Mr. Carell was named Nashvillian of the Year by Easter Seals. He was made a Knight of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 2005, and in 2004, he received the Tennessee Hospital Association Meritorious Service Award for philanthropist/volunteer.

In January 2000, theCommunity Foundation of Middle Tennessee honored Mr. Carell by presenting him with the sixth annual Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award.

Mr. Carell is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ann Scott Carell, three daughters, all of Nashville, Julia Carell Stadler (George), Edith Carell Johnson (David), and Kathryn Carell Brown (David); and six grandchildren, Julia Claire Stadler, George Monroe Stadler, Carell Elizabeth Brown, David Nicholas Brown, William Carell Johnson and Ann Scott Johnson. He is also survived by his brother, James W. Carell (Jan).

Friends, colleagues remember Monroe Carell Jr.

Marlee Crankshaw, R.N., manager of the NICU and Newborn Services

“I was taught and have heard all my life that if you give, it will come back and you will be blessed. I have never met anyone like Mr. Carell who gave and gave — not just money — his time and his kindness was given to me so many times through our friendship. I know that I strive to be like him — he has inspired me through the years to give of myself. I said to him not too long ago that I couldn't imagine what it must be like to go to bed each night and get up the next morning and realize what all you have given to others. He cried and said, 'Marlee, it always comes back, always comes back. The Lord has blessed me.'”

Bill Walsh, M.D., medical director, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

“Mr. Carell was a wonderful, compassionate person who loves our babies and their families. He was brought to tears when he heard of difficult situations. He had no end of compassion. I first heard of Mr. Carell when Dr. Ian Burr told me in 1995 that there might be an anonymous donor who would be willing to champion and jump-start the development of a freestanding children's hospital for Nashville. Mr. Carell was involved from the conception through the completion and his charge to us was always to design the best facility for the children and let him figure out how to pay for it!”

John Brock III M.D., professor and director of the Division of Pediatric Urology and surgeon in chief of Children's Hospital

“What impressed me most about Mr. Carell was his incredible passion for this hospital. I have seen this on innumerable occasions in his interactions not only with donors but also parents and children. Those of us who knew him realize that we could not have asked for a better benefactor for this hospital. Monroe Carell is someone who truly embodied the spirit and the mission of Children's Hospital.”

Thomas Graham, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus

“Monroe Carell has been such an incredible gift and a light to all in the Nashville and Vanderbilt community with his passion for giving of himself and his resources for the betterment of all. We can all learn a great deal from him with regard to how we live our lives and give of our resources. It was a great honor to be the first holder of the Ann and Monroe Carell Family Chair of Pediatric Cardiology.”

Orrin Ingram, member of the Board of Trust, chair of the Medical Center Board and chair of Vanderbilt Medical Center's part of the Shape the Future Campaign

“Monroe Carell, through his leadership and countless contributions to the community and to Vanderbilt Medical Center, has been a wonderful role model for many and personal mentor for me. He served as a wonderful example of someone who found a calling that he felt deeply passionate about — in developing the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt — and who threw his heart and soul into that cause. The children and families of our region will benefit from his legacy for generations to come. We'll miss him greatly.”

Martha Ingram, chairman of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust

“Monroe Carell was devoted to Vanderbilt University. When we decided in 1998 to have a new capital 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.”

Terrell Smith, R.N., director of Patient/ Family Centered Care, Vanderbilt University Hospital and clinics

“Every time I walk by that beautiful portrait of Monroe on the second floor of Children's Hospital, I just have to smile. He looks so relaxed and at ease, as if he just thought he would sit down for a few minutes and chat with some children. Truth is, the Monroe who built our hospital was a very different person. I experienced a man of tremendous drive and determination with a profound sense of mission. He was willing to do whatever it took to build the best hospital possible for the children. What I like about Monroe is that even if he had a strong opinion, he was always willing to listen and learn.”

Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., chair of the Department of Pediatrics and physician in chief of Children's Hospital

“I had the privilege of knowing Monroe for some time prior to my recent arrival at Vanderbilt. Indeed his passion for helping all children resonated so deeply with my own that this was perhaps the single greatest influence on my recruitment. Each day, each morning that I enter the hospital and pass a family with their child, I smile and see Monroe in their hearts and in mine. As Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us, 'Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.' Monroe's lasting monument is the love and care delivered in this great hospital — his great hospital — to every child of Nashville and beyond … and it will indeed last forever.”

Bill Ewers, M.D., professor of Clinical Medicine at Vanderbilt and a member of the Medical Center Board

“Monroe Carell was a noble man and lived his entire life for what he believed was the highest possible purpose. He was a strong businessman, but an extremely gentle-hearted person. I've seen tears well up in his eyes on many occasions when he heard about a child suffering. He was one of the nicest men I have ever known.”