The Obit For Willard Carson

Willard R. Carson Jr.

Published in The Trenton Times from 5/6/2008 - 5/7/2008.

TRENTON - Surrounded by family and friends, Willard R. Carson Jr. died Sunday. He was 91.

Bill, the last living founder of the Babe Ruth League, had the special thrill of meeting Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies at the Babe Ruth World Series held in Hamilton in 2006.

Bill retired as a locomotive engineman in 1978 after 37 years of service on Conrail (formerly the Pennsylvania Railroad and Penn Central). For 24 years, he was secretary and legislative representative of Trenton Local 232, United Transportation Union (formerly the Brotherhood of Locomotive, Firemen and Enginemen). He also served the New Jersey legislative board of the U.T.U. as a secretary-treasurer for 12 years and as vice chairman for eight years.

Recognizing that a void existed both in Hamilton Township and the country for those boys too old for Little League and not quite old enough for American Legion baseball, Bill organized the first meeting with others to form the Hamilton Little-Bigger League for 13 to 15 year olds on Feb. 9, 1951.

In August of 1951, he wrote an article for the "Sporting News" expressing a desire to form a National Little-Bigger League so that older boys could play in local leagues throughout the country in a World Series. Representatives of 98 leagues throughout the country responded to his article and his call to "play ball." At the start of the 1954 season, the Little-Bigger League became officially known as the Babe Ruth League Inc. Bill Carson was secretary of the league for the first 13 years of its existence.

His love of baseball, and sports in general, began in the 1920s. Carson was president of the Trenton Junior Baseball League, 12th Ward League, and the 20th Century League. He helped organize the North Atlantic League in 1945 and was general manager of the Newburgh Hummingbirds of that loop in 1946. He was one of the owners of the Trenton Huskies football team in 1947. As a player, Carson caught and played the infield for the Keefers, Villa Park A.C. and Cloverdell Nines. He also played football, soccer, and basketball with the Villa Park Teams of the early '30s.

Starting in 1926, when he was 10 years old, he founded and was president of the Junior Baseball League, the Clover League, the Twelfth Ward League, and the Twentieth Century League.

In 1945 and 1946, he helped form the Class D North Atlantic League. Also he was a 175-lb Class (light heavy weight) boxer and a baseball catcher at Trenton High School.

His musicianship began as early as the 4th grade in 1927. He studied percussion instruments including the drums and marimbas. As a 12 year old, he joined the Hamilton Square YMCA and Trenton Moose bands. He also played in the Junior 4 Drum & Bugle Corps, band and orchestra, and entertained at the Cadwalader Park and the Harvest Homes in Central Jersey. Upon graduation from Trenton High School in 1935, he worked in his grandfather's Cloverdell Pork Company.

He sold insurance as an agent until 1999 and won many awards for salesmanship. He was the Mercer County court house reporter for the Trenton Morning Press, a sportswriter for the Trenton Labor News as well as editor of the Trenton Tribune in the 1930s. Bill edited and published the "Trailblazer" and the "Sport" magazines in the 1930s and 1940s.

As an insurance man for 64 years, he contributed numerous articles to various business publications. The pure joy that writing brought continued throughout his life. Since 1985, over 60 of his poems have been published in various anthologies. Most were about history and baseball.

Bill was devoted to Westminster Presbyterian Church, spending 19 years as an elder and a deacon for six years. He also was a member of the William Trent Association.

Raised by his paternal grandparents, his grandfather, Walter Carson, was a Mercer County Freeholder who piqued Bill's interest in politics.

Bill was well known for his humor, quick wit, encyclopedic knowledge of baseball, and his generosity to family and friends. He was especially well read about history and enjoyed spirited political discussions. Bill stayed engaged in life and cheering on his beloved Phillies. He never criticized anyone, was a true gentleman, and always saw the dignity of each person.

Born in Trenton, Bill was from a family of working people who, through their hard work and earnestness, helped make Trenton the great city that it grew to be. His relatives came from Europe in the 1600s and founded Hightstown and Carson's Mills. He witnessed the transformation of the railroads from steam to diesel to the Acela passenger trains. His son, Rick, was a conductor for Amtrak and died the week he was to work the inaugural run of the Acela passenger trains in 2000.

After losing contact for 40 years, Bill was able to re-connect with his siblings. While convalescing at the Mercerville Home during 2004, one of the nurses, Denise Dill, realized that the patient was actually her Uncle Bill! Through Denise and another nurse, his great-niece, Jackie Gillespie, he was able to re-establish those family ties. His sister, Jean, was present as Bill passed.

He was predeceased by his mother, Myrtle Young Carson Dux, and his father, Willard Russell Carson Sr., his wife, Mildred Cook Carson, his son, Richard Russell Carson, and his brother-in-law and best friend, Richard Cook. He is survived by a daughter, Donna Carson of Trenton; two grandsons, Christopher Carson Haldane, of Lake Ariel, PA, and James Scott Carson of Chicago, IL; a granddaughter, Dawn C. Clappsaddle of Jacksonville, FL and her husband Michael; and two great-grandchildren, Samantha and Bradley Clappsaddle of Jacksonville. He is also survived by a sister, Jean Carson Carnall Lambert of Hamilton; a brother and sister-in-law, Walter and Barbara Carson of Bristol, PA; a brother, Jack Carson of Clarksburg; and sister-in-law, Virginia Cook of Ewing.

Funeral services will be held 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Saul Colonial Home, 3795 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square. Interment will follow in Ewing Church Cemetery, Ewing.

Relatives and friends may call 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday and again 11-11:30 a.m. Friday at the Colonial Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations honoring Bill Carson be made to his church, the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1140 Greenwood Ave., Trenton, NJ 08609 or the Salvation Army, 575 East State St., PO Box 99, Trenton, NJ 08601.