Obituary: Charles F. Carroll / Longtime spokesman for Westinghouse Electric

May 23, 1927 - June 3, 2009

June 11, 2009 2:30 PM
By Jess Eagle Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At work, longtime Westinghouse Electric Corp. spokesman Charles F. Carroll was known as a "first-class professional." But outside the corporate board room, everyone will miss his tasteful, yet sometimes offbeat sense of humor.

Mr. Carroll, a Mt. Lebanon resident for 48 years who was called "Charlie" by family and friends, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January and died Wednesday. He was 82.

An employee of Westinghouse for 33 years, Mr. Carroll rose to the rank of director of public relations, managing the company's publicity staff worldwide.

Coworkers remember him as not just an excellent writer and idea man, but as someone who put things into perspective.

"He always understood how to use humor in its most appropriate way," said Renny Clark, who worked with Mr. Carroll at Westinghouse. "He should've been a humor editorial writer, or -- if he had any artistic ability -- he should've been an editorial cartoonist."

Mr. Carroll did start out in newspapers, covering Wall Street for The Wall Street Journal and the New York Herald Tribune in the late 1950s.

Vaughn Gilbert, the current manager of public relations at Westinghouse, said Mr. Carroll was a "journalist at heart" and served as Mr. Gilbert's mentor.

"He was committed to making sure young people in communications became good writers," Mr. Gilbert said.

Mr. Carroll's son, Paul, an author and former Wall Street Journal reporter who lives in Granite Bay, Calif., emphasized that commitment and humor when describing Mr. Carroll as a father of eight and a grandfather of 17.

"For his first two grandchildren, he didn't think he was old enough to be a grandpa, so he had them call him 'Sport,'" Paul Carroll said. "He was always joking around and doing little magic tricks for them."

Mr. Carroll began his career when his hometown newspaper, the Des Moines Register, became short-staffed during World War II. He answered phones, recorded sports scores and reported local news.

He enlisted in the Navy the day before his 18th birthday, at the very end of World War II. He also served during the Korean War.

After World War II, Mr. Carroll went to the University of Iowa, where he became the editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Iowan.

He was always known as a jokester to those closest to him.

"He never took himself seriously and never placed himself on a pedestal," Mr. Clark said.

Paul Carroll recounted one of his father's notable pranks: He convinced a group of people that he had been an Apollo astronaut and was the fifth man to walk on the moon.

"He was a little bit of a character," Mr. Gilbert said. "He could tell you a story that wasn't funny, and you'd still laugh."

In 2005, he and his wife, Yvonne, took their extended family of 33 -- all their children, grandchildren and children's spouses -- on a weeklong vacation to Ireland for their 50th wedding anniversary, fulfilling a life-long dream.

After retiring from Westinghouse in 1992, Mr. Carroll wrote a biweekly column for The Almanac in Pittsburgh's South Hills and volunteered at retirement homes, reading news to residents with his wife.

He was also an active member of St. Thomas More Parish in Bethel Park for 48 years.

In addition to his son and wife, Mr. Carroll is survived by seven other children, Charles Carroll of St. Paul, Minn., Timothy Carroll of Langhorne, Bucks County, Anne Gamber of Reisterstown, Md., Martha Sherman of Duvall, Wash., Amy Ranalli of Columbus, Ohio, Kathryn Carroll of Pittsburgh, and Jennifer Endo of Arlington, Va.; and two sisters, Janet Brennan of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and Lois Beh of Des Moines, Iowa;

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 222 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. Mass will be celebrated at St. Thomas More Church, 126 Fort Couch Road, at 10 a.m. Monday.