Joyce Carr. Contributed photo.
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Former Morgan Hill Unified School District Trustee Joyce Carr—who devoted her life to others as a mother, public servant and church member—died Feb. 28 at the age of 87, according to her family. 

Carr, a social worker who was elected to three terms on the local school board in the 1970s and 1980s, died of complications from a sudden, acute illness, according to her second of three sons, Larry Carr. She was surrounded by family members at a San Jose hospital at the time of her death. 

Joyce Carr was born in Fresno in 1934. A University of California at Berkeley alumna, she was the first in her family to graduate from college, Larry Carr said. 

Joyce and her husband, Jim Carr, moved to Morgan Hill in 1972, several years after they first met overseas as volunteers in the PeaceCorps program. The couple wed in 1963 while volunteering in Peru and would have celebrated their 60th anniversary this year, Larry Carr said. 

After moving to Morgan Hill with their three young sons, Joyce and Jim Carr almost immediately “got engaged in the community,” Larry said. Joyce Carr ran for election to the MHUSD school board in 1975, serving her first of three four-year terms. Although she lost re-election in 1979, she successfully ran again in 1983, serving two more terms until 1992. 

“Mom was the kind of person who, throughout her life…every action she took really was service beyond self,” said Larry Carr, whose early memories of his mother are of her making lunches for him and his brothers, Roger and Dan, at home before school every day. 

Also as a founding member of the Morgan Hill chapter of the AAUW, Joyce Carr was a trailblazer and a “trend setter” in the community, Larry Carr said. 

“When they moved to Morgan Hill, she (saw) a school district that was…not moving in the direction she thought it should, so instead of complaining she stepped up, at a time when not many women did that. Rather than complain and expect someone else to fix it, she decided to step up and do it,” said Larry, himself a former MHUSD trustee and Morgan Hill City Council member who was inspired by his mother to enter into politics. 

Joyce Carr’s time on the school board was productive, at a time that Morgan Hill was growing rapidly. While she was a trustee, the district built numerous schools, including Martin Murphy Middle and Jackson Elementary. Some of the district’s school buildings have her name engraved on plaques on the walls, Larry Carr noted. 

She was also a “driving force” in the preservation of the Machado School, and helped lead the board’s effort to move the schools away from double sessions, which had been strenuous on students and teachers, Larry added. 

She was on the board when all three of her sons graduated from high school, and was able to hand each of them their diplomas at graduation ceremonies, Larry said. 

Hal Hendrickson, who served on the MHUSD board with Joyce Carr, recalls her as someone who was easy to work with and strived to accomplish positive results for students and families. 

“She was dedicated to making sure the students were well taken care of and were getting a good education,” Hendrickson said. “She was a dedicated public servant who cared a lot about Morgan Hill Unified. She put in a lot of hours and worked hard. I enjoyed my time working with her.”

Joyce Carr’s faith led her to be active in church and instill those values in her children. The family initially attended St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Morgan Hill, and later became involved in Advent Lutheran Church after it was established. She helped run a Sunday School program when her sons were kids, Larry said. 

“Mom was a very faithful person. That was a big part of her life,” Larry said. 

Gary Berkland, founding pastor of Advent Lutheran, said he has known the Carr family since he moved to Morgan Hill in the 1970s to establish the congregation. 

In search of a venue for a vacation Bible school program, Berkland said he approached St. John’s congregation to ask to share a space on their property. Jim and Joyce Carr were founding members of St. John the Divine, and Larry was the same age as Berkland’s son, he said. 

“With our sons attending the VBS program together, Joyce was a parent volunteer,” Berkland recalled. “That began a longtime friendship. In later years, Jim and Joyce joined our Lutheran congregation and so the friendship became even closer.” 

Longtime Morgan Hill resident Joyce Carr is pictured with her granddaughter, Katie Carr. Contributed photo.

Joyce Carr continued to volunteer regularly for various programs and events at Advent Lutheran. Anita Warner, current and longtime pastor at Advent Lutheran, has known the Carr family for 29 years. She said it was “my honor and my joy” to have known Joyce Carr. 

“Her deep faith in Christ naturally led her into service throughout her life—the kind of service that doesn’t draw attention to her but truly uplifts others in their lives,” Warner said. “For example, her service on the school board served countless children and families who may never have known her, but whose education in life was made better through her care and her service.”

After her tenure as an elected school board member, Joyce Carr also worked at different times as a substitute teacher and a tax preparer, and also worked at a local print shop that was owned by the Tarvin family. 

Joyce Carr is survived by her husband, Jim, and sons Roger, Dan and Larry; as well as six granddaughters and one grandson. 

A memorial service will be held at Advent Lutheran Church on April 15, according to Larry Carr. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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