Honorable Hugh L. Carey ’42C, ’51L, ’67HON
As this issue of the St. John’s University Magazine was about to go
to press, we were saddened to learn of the passing of Hon. Hugh L.
Carey ’42C, ’51L, ’67HON, former Governor of the State of New York
and one of the University’s most beloved and distinguished alumni.
Governor Carey received his Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s
College in 1942, graduated from the School of Law in 1951 and was
awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1967. He died on Sunday,
August 7, 2011 at his summer home on Shelter Island, NY at the age
Governor Carey amassed a truly remarkable record of service within
both the public and private sectors. A decorated World War II
veteran, he was part of the unit that liberated the Nordhausen
Concentration Camp from the Nazis and was awarded the Combat
Infantry Award, the Bronze Star and the Croix de Guerre. He
entered politics in 1960 and was elected to seven terms in the
United States House of Representatives. He was a member of the
powerful Ways and Means Committee and authored several pieces
of landmark legislation designed to assure equitable treatment of
the disabled. But his most memorable accomplishments were to come
during his two terms as Governor of New York State. Serving from
1975 to 1982, he is widely credited with saving the City of New
York from bankruptcy during the fiscal crisis of the 1970's. Among
the other accomplishments of his administration were the
inauguration of the memorable “I Love New York” campaign and the
establishment of the famed Empire State Games, another of his
determined efforts to foster equity for the developmentally
Following his political career, he returned to the practice of law,
serving at one point as an Executive Vice President at W.R. Grace
and Company and head of the firm’s Office of Environmental Policy.
More recently, he was Senior Partner at Harris Beach, one of the
nation’s top 250 law firms.
For almost three-quarters of a century, Hugh Carey, since his days
as a freshman in 1938, has remained an integral part of this
university as friend, active alumnus, and generous
benefactor. With pride in and gratitude for his
accomplishments, St. John’s has conferred upon him virtually every
honor it has to give. In addition to the honorary doctorate, the
University presented him with the President’s Medal, the Pietas
Medal, the Medal of Honor, and the Spirit of Service Award and
inducted him into the Heritage Circle. Governor Carey participated
in a broad range of University activities and was a longtime member
of The Loughlin Society. The Hugh and Helen Carey
Residence Hall, located on the Queens campus and named for Carey
and his late wife, was dedicated in 2004 and will remind
generations of future students of his life and achievements.
Among the most memorable of his public achievements was his service
as one of the “Four Horsemen,” a group that included Senators
Edward Kennedy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan and U.S. House Speaker
Tip O’Neill and that laid the groundwork for a peaceful
solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. This desire for
peaceful reconciliation animated his most recent gift to St. John’s
– establishment of the Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution
in the St. John’s School of Law in 2009, which will remain as a
permanent memorial to his vision and values.
Even as the St. John’s community mourns his passing, we also
celebrate the life of this truly extraordinary man.