Charles S. Carver, 1947–2019

Charles S. Carver, my brother

Charles S. Carver left us yesterday, after a long and often painful struggle with cancer. The academic world and the University of Miami lost a world-class, distinguished researcher in social psychology. Countless people lost a dear friend. His beloved wife Youngmee lost her husband. And I lost my only brother.

The final battle came on suddenly and unexpectedly, and we initially thought he would pull through it and recover. But that didn’t happen. Chuck wound up in the ICU on life support, and after several days on life support, when hope for recovery was gone, he was allowed to slip away peacefully. Youngmee was at his side, along with my wife Allysen and me, and several members of Youngmee’s family.

His professional accomplishments are legion, and he was awarded the American Psychological Association’s highest award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions “for significant theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of goal-directed behavior and self-regulation.” His publications include ten books and hundreds of articles, and his work has been cited an astounding 120,000 times in scientific publications by other researchers.

To his friends and colleagues, he was a curmudgeon and mentor loved by all. He was quietly and extraordinarily generous, both professionally and personally. He would have responded with an acerbic denial if you said that to him. A former football player and wrestler (at Huron High School, Huron, Ohio), he loved watching sports. He was the only person in the world who could get me to sit down and enjoy a football game on TV. He was utterly devoted to his dogs Tntn and Jahng, who it must be said are totally charming little rascals. He helped me and my family in ways I cannot even begin to describe, and I will not try. He was perhaps the first person in the world to believe in my writing. He loved good science fiction. Among his favorite writers were William Gibson, Rosemary Kirstein, N.K. Jemison, Connie Willis, and Linda Nagata.

To describe Chuck as a brother is difficult. As kids, we fought all the time. My mother once wrote back to relatives from a family vacation, “I have been asking myself why we didn’t leave the boys at home, or in cages.”  Yeah, I can see that. He was two years older and stronger than I was, and I could never win. I bought a set of weights so I could get stronger, but I never liked using them, and he did. So guess who got stronger.

In high school, he started taking an interest in being a big brother in a good way, and he strong-armed me into joining the wrestling team. I didn’t like it that much at first, but it grew on me, and in time I became dedicated to the sport and valued it for the remainder of my high school years. It was because of Chuck that I ventured way out of my comfort zone for colleges and attended Brown University, where he was a junior. At some point during this period he asked me, “When are you going to start writing again?” And he nudged me for copies of my stories to read.

In our adulthood (when the hell did we become “adults”?) he was relentlessly helpful, especially after I had a family.

He waited many years for a chance to read my forthcoming book, The Reefs of Time. He only got halfway through the first book before he was struck down, which is supremely unfair. But that was long enough for him to find a word-o that had escaped all of my readers and proofreaders, and me.

I’m going miss him like hell.

Here’s Chuck and Youngmee, taken on a trip to Fiji, back 2009.

22 Responses

  1. Alan Fingerhut
    | Reply

    My sincere condolences to you and your family ,and, as we of the Jewish faith say, with a handshake ‘I wish you a long life’. May he rest in peace.

  2. Fran Giuffre
    | Reply

    Jeff, Your tribute to your brother Chuck was a beautiful thing to read. He leaves a hole in the hearts of many. I know that final hope that a loved one will recover and then the demon of diseases takes him away. Give your grief the time and space that it needs which is forever. My Deepest Sympathy Fran

  3. Richard Bowker
    | Reply

    What a lovely piece, Jeff. Thank you for sharing these memories with us.


  4. Suz
    | Reply

    What a lovey tribute Jeff! I’m so sorry you lost him too soon. We love you and send healing vibes to you and the family while moving forward.

  5. Allison wilcox
    | Reply

    This is a beautiful tribute to an amazing person. I am so incredibly sorry, and can only imagine the intensity of the grief you are all experiencing. So many people love and respect your brother, and he so adored you. His existence made the world a better (and more humerous) place. Thank you for sharing this, and so much love to you and your family, and Youngmee.

  6. John and Cartie Antonelli
    | Reply

    So sorry for your loss. God bless you and your precious family

  7. David Rau
    | Reply

    Condolences from Molly and me, Jeff. I remember Chuck and those great wrestling teams he was part of back in The Day at Huron High School.

  8. John Dutt
    | Reply

    Ditto from me, Jeff. Nancy Bickley was kind enough to forward the link to your very elegant eulogy for Chuck. I, too, remember him well and like Dave, still can remember you two mighty grapplers on the mat at HHS. I lost track of him of course over the years, but am thankful for your catch-up on his amazing career. I am so sorry for your loss.
    All the best, my old friend. John Dutt

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply

      Thanks, John – It’s good to hear from you, in spite of the unfortunate reason. –Jeff

  9. Kori Weiser, Seattle WA
    | Reply

    Your tribute was beautiful and poignant to your dear brother. My most heartfelt condolences to you and your family at this sad time.

  10. Ann Williamson Meier
    | Reply

    He was a classmate, he was a friend. He was smarter than most of us, but he never let on to be. The Williamson family sends their condolences Jeff. Thanks for the terrific tribute to a very special person.

  11. Teresa A Aluku
    | Reply

    Youngmee my friend, I offer all my condolence wishes for the untimely loss of your husband. I pray to the Lord to bless you with the strength to cope up with this loss and I wish you peace during this difficult time.

  12. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Thanks, all of you, for your very kind thoughts!

  13. Rob Morrison
    | Reply

    Sorry for your loss. He sounds like a hell of a guy and brother.

  14. Charlene Herreid
    | Reply

    Jeffrey, I sent a message but I’m not sure it took. So sorry to hear about Chuck. I was one of Chuck’s first graduate students at UM, starting the program in 1978. He had been the professor in several of my courses as an undergraduate before that. He had a reputation as a tough teacher and I took his PSY 201 class to challenge myself. I did well and that meant something to me. Later, I applied to grad school and he was my major professor. I started graduate school at 18 and was totally clueless. We had a complicated relationship, but he was a tremendous influence on me. I had a chance to tell him that about 2 years ago and he wrote me back a nice note. Right after that I was diagnosed with cancer and until just recently (like within the last few weeks) there was not much good to say. I was hoping to get back in touch and discovered the news about him. I’m very sad. Is there any way I can contact you, perhaps, through your publisher or maybe email? I’d like to talk more about him. I hope you can let me know. He certainly touched my life in a big way and influenced me as a person. Hope we can talk more.

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply

      Thank you, Charlene. I’m replying via email.

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply

      Charlene, my email back to you bounced. If you have another email address, could you send it to me via the contact form below?


  15. Scott McIntosh
    | Reply

    Dr. Carver stumped me on a mid term extra credit question about who wrote some Sci Fi book. You of course – and since then I even got your autograph on that same book! But I nailed his “Little Feat” lyrics question for the final – and he VERY grudgingly gave me an A- instead of a B+. Probably mad he couldn’t use that great question any more! We were pals after I also joined the faculty. Fun guy to be around. So sorry for your loss.

  16. Charlene Herreid
    | Reply

    Jeffrey, I live in New York City, so I’ve been a bit distracted for the last few months. thanks for writing back. I put in my work email below. I work at NYU, so if this doesn’t make it, you can find me at their website directory. Thanks very much. Charlene

  17. larry kahn
    | Reply

    Sorry just realized you lost your only brother when I heard the dedication in your book.. I know how you feel i lost my only brother at age 30 in a snowmobile accident.. I don’t know if your parents are still around but it makes it much more difficult as they get older when you are the only child.


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