Memories of Ann Carroll of West 11th Street
Written by Paul Carroll with input from Suzanne Carroll
A long-time resident on 11th Street, West of Sixth Avenue, Ann Starck Carroll passed away June 4, 2022, three weeks after her 95th birthday. She was a regular presence in her building and on her block. Now the earth completes another turn around the sun. As another Mother’s Day arrives, so does an opportunity to remember this elegant and remarkable woman, our mother.
Born in Palatine, Illinois, a mainly German-Polish suburb of Chicago at the time, Ann assisted her doctor father in the clinic based in their home. Her mother was a nurse. Her half-brother Carl became a doctor and her younger brother Tom worked in hospital administration. She won the township spelling competition two years in a row: the blue award banners were passed down through the family. After High School, Ann attended nearby Northwestern University, where she was a member of the Chi Omega Sorority. Afterwards, she embarked on romantic adventures in post-war Europe.
Ann Carroll was employed in publishing before marrying Raymond Carroll in 1955. They met in Washington DC when she worked for the CIA in its early days, and he was living in a basement flat and managing a well-known Georgetown bookstore before starting a long career at Newsweek. The couple had two children, Paul and Suzanne, before divorcing in the early 1970s. Ann worked for many years as Executive Secretary, first for James Hester, President of New York University, and then for the New York Yacht Club.
Raymond Carroll remained in his children’s lives. At the same time, Ann played the main role in bringing up their children, including through long and messy stages of adolescence. Piano lessons, tap dance, ballet at the Joffrey were offered, along with summer camp and extended visits to Vermont. Jazz and opera played in the home along with Saturday morning cartoons and PBS programming. Neighborhood institutions included Sutter’s and Jon Vie bakeries, Balducci’s and the Jefferson Market.
Even as the Village hosted peace movements and liberation movements, the city struggled financially. During the 1970s, hard times came to her building, The Unadilla, where the family had lived since 1962. A succession of landlords not only shut down old fashioned services like the daily garbage collection by dumbwaiter but failed to prevent an invasion of cockroaches. At one time the police visited to surveil the next-door neighbors with many German shepherd dogs who were apparently selling drugs at all hours (the men, not the dogs).
Still later, Ann Carroll was stabbed in the chest in the hallway, while walking Clementine, the family’s Shetland Sheepdog. Though seriously injured, she recovered.
Witness to this ordeal was the well-known writer Grace Paley, who divided her time between the building and her home in Vermont. While in the over thirty years since it became a co-op, the building has returned to much safer, more genteel conditions, it has continued to be a home to literary residents, such as noted author and professor Joel Conarroe.
What does one usually leave out in a short article? Let’s add some of them: small joys like a small glass of wine in the evening, support for good causes, good advice and healthy skepticism, occasional forays into spiritual questioning and music. Visits to hear Lieder songs at the Frick with her friend and neighbor Jane made lasting impressions, and soprano Barbara Bonney’s voice touched her deeply. She sometimes seemed embarrassed by her interests. And yet Ann could be formidable. She rolled with the pandemic. And well into her 90’s, when the building’s elevator was out of repair for over three months, she learned to walk up and down three flights of steps almost every day.
Mrs. Carroll remained a fixture on the block, regularly greeting neighbors at Lin’s small Grocery store, The Ansonia Pharmacy, the recently departed Rite Aid on 13th Street, and the Jefferson Market Garden. She formed a deep and meaningful bond with the Golden family across the hall: their children who would visit regularly. Her curiosity and interest in people seemed to deepen with time. But time ran out.
Ann remained strong and she remained herself until the end. Ann Carroll was loved and will be missed.
Note: Ann is survived by her children Paul and Suzanne Carroll, and by David Nap, the surviving partner of her brother Tom. Those wishing to share memories are welcome to contact Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org