Obituary: Lucile Gates Carr

Great-great-grandmother, concert pianist, traveler, was 104 years old

Lucile Gates Carr died peacefully Wednesday, September 4 at Mt. San Antonio Gardens’ Oak Tree Lodge in Pomona. She was one month shy of her 105th birthday.  

She was born October 5, 1914 in Marble Rock, Iowa, and suffered early from serious childhood asthma. When she was five years old, despite generations of successful farming, her parents, Tena and Glen Gates decided to leave their livelihood, families and farm, and move their two  daughters, Estella and Lucy, to California in order to provide Lucy hope for a healthier life.

They chose Pomona because Tena had a sister who lived there. She attended San Antonio Elementary School, Emerson Junior High School and Pomona High School, graduating in 1932. She was crowned queen of the Los Angeles County Fair in 1931 and 1932.

She demonstrated extraordinary talent playing the piano early in life. That talent was enhanced by an unusual focus and commitment to excellence. After high school she attended the Olga Steeb School of Music in Los Angeles from 1933 to 1935, where she graduated with honors. 

She continued her study of piano with Ms. Steeb from 1936 to 1939, where she performed many times and distinguished herself as a concert pianist. Early in her career she borrowed $100 from her father to buy a music school in Alhambra and taught music.

On February 17, 1938, she married Richard L. (Dick) Carr at Pasadena Methodist Church. Their first home was in Alhambra, where they lived until 1942. After the birth of their first child, Richard, they moved to Pomona, where Mr. Carr worked as the accountant at Fernstrom Paper Mill until 1944, when he started Carr Paper Company.

Ms. Carr sold her music school in Alhambra but continued to teach in Pomona and perform all over California while raising her family, which by then included Richard and her daughter, Dorothy.

She contributed to her community through a variety of charities. She also returned to college, at Claremont Graduate School, where she earned a master’s degree in music and studied under Dr. Lee Pattison. She was pregnant with her third child, Barbara, when she walked with her class at graduation in 1950.

While raising her three children, Ms. Carr was active in the Assistance League of Pomona Valley. She served as president, and was prominently involved with the establishment of a hearing clinic as an adjunct charity for the Assistance League, and later active in High Nooners, an auxiliary of the organization. She also served as president of the Musicians Club of Pomona Valley, and was an active longtime member of Claremont Foothill Philharmonic Committee, supporting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.  

The Carrs travelled the world, fishing and playing golf. After Mr. Carr retired, she continued to perform as a concert pianist. “Dick was large and in charge for many years while in later years Lucy took center stage,” her family shared.

She was an accomplished entertainer, and continued to perform in various charitable venues until she was 97. The Carrs were married an amazing 72 years before Mr. Carr died at the age of 95 in 2010.

Ms. Carr was always a fan of watching golf, horse racing, the Dodgers and the Lakers. She got her first computer when she was 90 to keep up with her nine grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and later, three great-great-grandchildren.  

She leaves behind her children, Richard (Gail) of Corona Del Mar, Dorothy Rountree of Claremont, and Barbara Carr of Irvine; niece Patricia (Russ) Grieco of Palm Springs, daughter of her deceased sister Estella Forney; grandchildren Christine, Katy, Keely, Kimberly, Allison, Amy, Rebecca, Anna and Glen; 17 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

The family wishes to express gratitude to Ms. Carr’s beloved caregivers.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Pomona Valley Hospital and Medical Center Foundation at pvhmc.org/giving-support.aspx, or by check to 1798 N. Garey Ave., Pomona, CA 91767.

A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Sunday, October 6 at Mt. San Antonio Gardens Assembly Room, 900 Harrison Ave., Pomona.

 

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