CARR, VINCENT WAGGONER (1918 ~ 2004). Vincent Waggoner Carr, member and Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and Attorney General of Texas, was born October 1, 1918, in Fairlie, Hunt County, Texas to Vincent and Ruth Carr. Following the closure of the family's bank during the depression, the Carrs moved to Lubbock in 1932, where Vincent worked at a seed company.
Not wanting his children to experience the financial hardships that he did, Vincent pressed his children to go to college. Carr, after graduating from Lubbock High School in 1936, attended Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University, where he and his brother, Warlick, were top ranked debaters. Also at Tech, he met Ernestine Story, whom he married on December 21, 1941. Together they had one son, David.
After receiving a degree in political science in 1940, Carr enrolled in the University of Texas Law School, but put his legal education on hold when the United States entered World War II. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as an Army Intelligence Branch specialist, an Aviation Cadet and, by the end of the war, was flying B-25s.
After the War, Carr returned to Austin and resumed his legal education and graduated from the University of Texas in January 1947, with a Bachelor of Laws degree. Soon after, he and Ernestine returned to Lubbock, where he and Warlick open a law office. From 1947 to 1948, he worked as an assistant district attorney, until his election as Lubbock County Attorney. He held that position for two years and in 1950, successfully campaigned for the District 119 seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
Taking his oath of office on January 9, 1951, he served ten years, 1951 to 1961. In his last four years, he was elected to two consecutive terms as Speaker of the House, a distinction achieved by only two others before him.
As Speaker, Carr focused on several key issues: water, tourism, industrial development, and the establishment of a code of ethics for legislators and lobbyists. Living in arid West Texas, he knew the importance of water and worked to adopt a constitutional amendment to create the Texas Water Development Board. After its creation, the Board issued $200 million in bonds to fund local water projects.
Carr also took the lead on several other issues - the creation of the Texas Youth Council, the recodification of Texas juvenile laws, updating the worker's compensation statutes, reorganizing the State Insurance Board and passing legislation to authorize the financing and construction of a new State Library and Archives building. In 1960, he left the Legislature to run for Attorney General, but lost to incumbent Will Wilson.
Undeterred by his previous loss, Carr ran again in 1962 and was elected. As Texas' chief law enforcement officer, he took part in the Warren Commission's investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He also founded the Attorney General's Youth Conference on Crime, for which he was credited with the reduction of juvenile crime in Texas.
After serving his second term as Attorney General, Carr sought to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Tower, but was unsuccessful. Two years later, in 1968, he ran against Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith and a host of other Democrats for Governor, but failed to garner enough votes to make it to the run-off.
After leaving public office, Carr went into private practice and eventually joined the Austin law firm of DeLeon & Boggins. In 1969, Governor Smith, a fellow Texas Tech graduate, appointed him to the Texas Tech Board of Regents. He held that position until 1971.
In 1970, Texas politics was rocked by the Sharpstown stock-fraud scandal and Carr was indicted on charges of fraud, conspiracy and filing false reports to the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Acquitted of all charges in 1974, he went on to publish a memoir, Waggoner Carr, Not Guilty, in 1977, where he claimed that the charges were part of a Republican conspiracy that stemmed from the Nixon White House to embarrass Texas Democrats.
After his political career, Carr, who was a Mason, continued to practice law in Austin and remained active in several state and local groups. He served as State Commander of the American Legion, Department of Texas, and as Chairman of the American Air Power Heritage Foundation, Commemorative Air Force. He also chaired the Action for Metropolitan Government Committee for the City of Austin and Travis County and was appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to serve on a citizens' commission examining the Texas Judicial System. In 1993, he published his second book, Texas Politics In My Rearview Mirror.
Carr was also honored throughout his career with many awards and special commendations. In 1966, he was named the outstanding attorney general, by the nation's 50 state attorney generals and received an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from McMurry College. In 1968, he was named a distinguished Alumnus of Texas Tech University and, because of his work with Texas' youth, he received special commendations from the Texas State Juvenile Officers Association, the Optimists, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs of Texas, the Texas State Coaches Association, the DeMolays of Texas, and the Texas Safety Association.
After a lengthy illness, Carr passed away on Wednesday, February 25, 2004. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ernestine, his son, Dr. David W. Carr, and his wife, Diana, and two granddaughters, Cherise and Courtney.
Information taken from: Texas Legislative Council, Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature: 1846 - 2002, (2002); State Bar of Texas website, http://www.texasbar.com; The Handbook of Texas Online. [Accessed Thu Feb 26 11:34:03 US/Central 2004]. "Former Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr dies," Austin American-Statesman, Thursday, February 26, 2004; "Lubbock lawyer, political power Carr dies at 85," Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Thursday, February 26, 2004; *#0147Waggoner Carr: An Inventory of His Papers, 1945 - 1985, at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00062/tsw-00062.html; and Obituary, Austin American-Statesman, Friday, February 27, 2004.