“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.” The Music Man
On Saturday, Jan. 25, Rockville Centre lost one of its most exceptional citizens – Ronald Townsend Carman. Known to many for his generosity, council, and wit, Carman was first and foremost a family man. He is survived by his wife, Cris, daughters, Meri (Emile) and Kelly, and son, Ronald (Jessica), and brother, Robert (Anita). He was 68.
Carman lived his life with a zeal and zest with which few could compare. After surviving both attacks on the Twin Towers, Carman never left an experience until tomorrow, living each day to improve himself, love his family, and give to his community. From the golf course to the concert venue, Carman was never more satisfied than when convening those he loved. His wit made him the household crossword champion, his wisdom the trusted mentor to many, and his intellect an unrivaled conversationalist.
His love for music featured prominently in his life, quoting Broadway’s best in his father of the bride speech at Meri and Emile’s wedding, singing “Layla” countless times with his son, and knowing every word at each Billy Joel concert alongside his favorite concert companion, Kelly. Most often, Carman could be found amongst friends sharing in good wine and conversation at local spots like Dario’s and Monaghan’s, as well as New York City’s finest establishments, Keen’s Steakhouse and the Capital Grille.
A devotion to history, desire to see the world, and unwavering faith founded his greatest love, his love for his wife, Cris. From the highlands of Scotland to beaches of Hawaii and barrel rooms of Napa and Italy, Ron and Cris expanded their world view together with every passport stamp, each book passed back and forth, and numerous lectures attended as members of the New York Historical Society. As his son remarked at the funeral mass, “Mom, you were the perfect yin to his yang.” As true soulmates, the couple’s love radiates the brightest through their children and grandchildren, both their deepest joy and greatest adventure. They embarked on their latest journey as grandparents, welcoming Christina and Sonoma in 2017, and Beckett in 2019.
Whether in Rockville Centre or Quechee, VT, the Carmans’ table was never empty; their generosity and hospitality made them the dearest of friends to many, and second parents to the luckiest. Each summer, the couple gathered their closest friends and family for the unofficial Quechee Open, a weekend of friendly competition on the links, sing-a-longs on the deck, and unparalleled glasses of wine with dear friends.
A meaningful journey for Carman was his faith where, after years of attending mass alongside his wife and family, Carman chose to convert to Catholicism in 2016. This was a decision he studied and reflected upon greatly with Cris and resulted in them renewing their vows, bringing them ever closer through their love of God.
Ethics came naturally to Carman, shaping him to be a stalwart of uncompromising integrity and insight over his career in the law. He applied his intellect and a keen sense of justice, first at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, then at Dean Witter and, eventually, Morgan Stanley. As he often remarked, “You either have ethics, or you don’t.” As a managing director at Morgan Stanley, Carman’s impact was not only felt through his high standards of excellence but also his resolute commitment to the fair treatment and advancement of his staff.
“Ron’s superior intellect and sense of ethics made him a most trusted counselor,” Christine Edwards, former executive vice president, chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley, said. “I never was in doubt that the work from him and his team would be of the highest standards of the law and excellence that was uniquely Ron.”
Beyond the office, Carman’s generosity led him to get deeply involved in the firm’s philanthropic partnership with New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. Carrying his spirit forward, his family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the hospital in Carman’s name (www.nyp.org/giving - select ‘other’ and type in ‘Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital’ in honor of Ron Carman).
Many in the village knew Carman for his dedication to education. As president of the Rockville Centre Education Foundation (2011-2013), Carman sought to improve the opportunities for students both in and outside the classroom.
“I first got to know Ron Carman well when we both served on the Board of Directors,” former president of the foundation, Joel Ditchik, said. “I was immediately struck by his intelligence as well as his direct and precise style of communicating.”
When Carman took over as president of the board, Ditchik said, these skills, along with many others, served him well in his two years at the helm.
“Ron’s attitude was always ‘can do’ and one of the highlights of his tenure as president was his arranging for South Side High School alumna Doris Kearns Goodwin to accept the Education Foundation’s annual award at its 2013 fundraising gala,” Ditchik said. “This was something prior boards had tried to do, with no success. Ron, undeterred, made it happen, and it turned out to be one of the most successful evenings in the Education Foundation’s history. When I succeeded Ron as President of the Foundation, I was happy that Ron continued on as a board member, not only because he was a valuable resource to me as a past president, but also because he continued to make important contributions to the foundation.”
Carman’s thirst for knowledge started from a young age growing up in Uniondale, where he knew his multiplication tables backward and forwards as a kindergartener. His passion for history inspired his bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University, and, ever the student, he went on to receive his JD from Hofstra University in addition to his MBA from Columbia University’s School of Business. For those who knew Carman, they knew his heart always beat for the Big Red, and as a dedicated alumna, he met with countless prospective students to help guide future generations of Cornellians. Carman believed in paying forward the gifts education gave him by providing an annual scholarship for local South Side High School graduates to pursue their own Cornell dreams. Locally, Carman left his mark as an educator, serving as the dean of Undergraduate Business Education at Molloy College.
As remarked upon at his wake, Carman was known to many as the smartest man they knew, the wisest teacher or the dearest friend. His resolute belief in justice, his loyalty to his friends, and his deepest love for his family will make him a man well missed as well as remembered. Just as he would say in parting, “Cheers.”
Submitted by the Carman family