Former Mayor, Green Wave Coach Bill Carr Dies at Age 86
The beloved mayor and former high school football coach is remembered as a motivator, a teacher and a friend.
Mayor Larry Bagwell opened Monday night's Easley City Council meeting on a sad note for him both professionally and personally.
He had received news earlier in the afternoon that his mentor, his colleague and his friend, William A. "Bill" Carr had died.
Carr, a former Mayor of Easley and also a former head Green Wave football coach, died Monday at Spartanburg Regional Hospice at the age of 86.
Carr was well-known in Easley not only for his coaching and political abilities, but because of the man that he was.
"You'll never replace a man like Bill Carr," Bagwell said. "I've enjoyed following in his footsteps, he was great leader and I learned a lot from him."
Bagwell said he talked to Carr about two or three weeks ago, when his former boss called to ask if he would serve as a pallbearer at his funeral.
"I said, 'Coach, you're not going anywhere, but if I don't go before you do, I'd be honored to be one.'"
Bagwell had worked as an assistant coach under Carr at Easley High School and then served as a councilman during Carr's tenure as mayor.
"He was a great motivator," Bagwell said. "He could get people to fall in line behind him."
Bagwell said he was a "sharp" teacher and was adored by students and players alike.
Carr came to Easley High School in 1957, after having served as coach at Liberty High School, leading the Green Wave to a second state title in 1962.
On the field Carr loved offense, Bagwell said.
"His philosophy was get on the board quick, get on first and see if you can pile on the scores," Bagwell said. "He loved those 50-49 games. Trying to outscore people. He did a great job."
Carr loved working with the cornerbacks and running backs, so he left the defensive work to Bagwell.
"He did a great job with them, the challenge for him was on that side of the ball," Bagwell said.
Bagwell said they would meet on Sunday afternoons after church to review game film and to talk about what they would work on during Monday's practice.
He said the meetings usually involved a trip to Little Pigs Barbecue in Greenville and then studying film up until 10 or 11 at night.
While the two men shared a number of victories, Bagwell said they also shared the losses.
Bagwell said he remembers his first state title game in 1964 as an assistant under Carr. He said they got beat by Camden at Brice Field, but he said Carr was upbeat.
"People wanted to be around him," Bagwell said. "He was enthusiastic about everything he undertook. You just couldn't get down around him."
He said he remembers the only time he saw the coach down was during a game against Palmetto High School. He said a player for Palmetto's leg was broken during the game. He said the incident made Palmetto mad, but it deflated Easley's team and, it deflated Bagwell.
"I remember we got beat pretty bad by Palmetto, the worst defeat I can remember us having," Bagwell said. "He was like 'maybe we need to go back to the drawing board.' I think we got beat like 54-17. It took a long time to get him off the field that night."
Bagwell said he shared some wonderful memories on the field, but a lot of great moments off the field, too.
"We were friends, we didn't always agree with one another, but we were good for each other and had a good time together," Bagwell said.
"He was a great man to learn under, not only about football but also in our political careers and in life. I will miss him."
Bagwell said that whenever he talked to Carr the conversation most always turned to football. He said they enjoyed ribbing one another about Bagwell's love of Clemson Tigers and Carr's love of the Gamecocks. He said they talked about former players and students who were doing well for themselves in Easley, people in town and reminiscing about their time together.
Bagwell said that he and his wife, Lu, spent time with Carr and his wife, Doris, outside of football. He said a small group of friends would gather to go out for meals together, music and dancing.
Carr left the school to coach at Spartanburg High School. According to an article on GoUpstate.com, Carr a 118-27-3 record with the Vikings, with four one-loss seasons, an upper state championship and was named National High School Football Coach of the Year in 1978 by the National High School Coaches Association, before announcing his retirement in 1980.
Carr would return to Easley and serve four terms as the town's Mayor.
"Bill Carr was admired on the football field and could make an entire class cry and never raise his voice," Councilman Dave Watson said. "He was very demanding, but you always knew where Bill stood. I respected him tremendously."
Watson said that during Carr's terms as mayor, the town never had a tax increase and that Carr personally looked at every invoice that was paid by the city.
"He had an unbelievable memory," Watson said. "I remember one time we had a dignitary from Jerusalem visiting and I gave him his bio just moments before. Without any notes, he introduced him like he had known him all his life. He was an amazing man and will be missed by many."
When Carr decided not to run again for mayor, he returned to Spartanburg to be closer to his children and grandchildren.
"He loved Easley," Bagwell said. "He left his heart here."
Bagwell said that was evident in that Carr's funeral services will be held later this week at Easley First Baptist.
Funeral directors at Robinson Funeral Home's Downtown Chapel said they will be handling the arrangements for the family.