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Dr. Virginia Spencer Carr dies in Massachusetts

I never had Dr. Virginia Spencer Carr as a professor. I'm not even sure when I met her, but I'm sure I was a student at Columbus College, where she taught English. CC is now Columbus State University.

I graduated in 1975, and her book, a biography of Carson McCullers, "The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers," was printed that year. So I think I may have written a story for the college paper, the Saber, about her doing research about the book.

I was saddened to learn that she died yesterday (April 10) in Lynn, Mass. She was 82.

One of her daughters, Karen Carr Gale, said there will be no funeral.

Her ashes will be taken to the shore near her home and will be scattered into the Atlantic. There will be no memorial service.

Besides the McCullers biography, she wrote biographies on John Dos Passos and Paul Bowles.

Dr. Carr was born on July 21, 1929 in West Palm Beach, Fla. She got her bachelor's degree in English at Florida State University, and got her master's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her doctorate came from FSU, where she wrote her dissertation on McCullers.

One thing that I didn't know was that she was a member of the Flying High Circus. I cannot imagine her on the trapeze.

Besides Karen, who lives in Wichita, Kan., other survivors include her daughters, Catherine Carr Lee of South Hadley, Mass. and Kimberly Carr Morris of Dade City, Fla. Dr. Carr is also survived by Mary E. Robbins, also of Lynn, whom she married in 2006. She had seven grandchildren, Michael Gale of Alexandria, Va., Sarah Gale McQuery of Wichita, Colin Lee of Boston, Rachel Lee of Newark, Del., Caroline Lee of South Hadley and Shannon Morris and Joshua Morris, both of Dade City.

After Dr. Carr left CC, she became an English professor and department chair of English at Georgia State University. She retired in 2003, and moved to Lynn in 2005.

I'm sorry it took her death to learn that her mother, Wilma Bell Spencer, worked for a newspaper. She was the society editor of the Palm Beach Daily News. Her father, Louis Perry Spencer, owned a tire company. Her great-grandfather, Valorus O. Spencer, was a pioneer postmaster of Palm Beach County.

Her obituary was written by Roger Harris. Karen said Roger and her mother decided years ago that each would write the other's obit. Roger sent me the email that told me that she had died.

Roger just sent me another email and said Dr. Carr's favorite cat was found dead, curled up in a closet the day she died. I'm sure the cat died of a broken heart.

Roger wrote: "I guess that we should never underestimate the strength of those bonds that exist between people and their pets ..."

My condolences go to Ms. Robbins and Karen and her sisters and the grandchildren. And, of course, to all her friends and acquaintances.

I cannot say that she and I were great friends. We were great acquaintances. Whenever I needed to talk to her, she was always gracious. And whenever I saw her, I got a big smile and hug.

The world is a little poorer now without her. Actually, a lot poorer.

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