William James Carr



William James Carr, former Milwaukee County Welfare Director, and one of the earliest black executives in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area, died April 9, 2017, at his home in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1919, he and his family moved to Indiana when he was a small child, where his father worked in the steel mills. Bill worked for the Veterans Administration, was a probation officer for the State of Indiana, and a Sportscaster for WJIZ, Hammond, Indiana.

He attended Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, an all-black male college, majoring in English Literature. During the summers, the students were bussed to Connecticut to pick tobacco. He also worked as a janitor at Morehouse to help pay his tuition.

While at Morehouse, he met a beautiful Spellman student, Mildred Pequette of Charleston. They were married in 1940 in Atlanta. Bill did post-graduate work at Roosevelt, Indiana and Northwestern Universities and was a distinguished graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College.

In 1943, Bill enlisted in the Army Air Corps, Keesler Field Mississippi, and served in Italy for three years, where he became proficient in Italian. He remained in the Army Reserves and was activated during the Korean conflict. He retired from the service as a Colonel in 1979.

In 1952, Bill and Mildred and their young family moved to the Milwaukee area. Bill was a claims representative and field representative for the Social Security Office, Downtown Milwaukee, where he earned a Director’s Citation, the highest award given by SSA. In 1962, he was promoted to Assistant District Manager of the Waukesha, Wisconsin office, where he remained until his retirement in 1974.

In 1974, he also ran for Mayor of Waukesha and bought and operated Triangle Record Shop in Waukesha. He came in second to incumbent Mayor Paul Vrakas. He joined the Marine National Exchange Bank as Vice President and became President and Director of the Marine Bank Card Corporation. Bill also worked as Director of Community and Government Relations for Primcare, a Wisconsin HMO.

Bill came out of retirement to become the Director of the Welfare Department, when requested by county leaders to reorganize the department. He later came out of retirement a second time to become Interim President of Steeltech Manufacturing Corp, a minority owned firm.

While in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area, Bill was associated with St. Mathias Episcopal Church, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Browndeer, Frontiers of America, The Governor’s Council on Aging, Waukesha Committee on Human Relations, Waukesha Comprehensive Mental Health Planning Committee, President and life member of Waukesha Lions Club, President of the Milwaukee Urban League, Waukesha County School Board, Lakeland Officials Association, Ninth Congressional District Military Academies, Nomination Selection Committee, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Governor’s Commission of Human Rights, Project Black Milwaukee, The Milwaukee Afro-American Council Foundation, Wisconsin Bar Association Board of Governors, President of Urban Day School, and his home owners’ association.

In 1995, he retired to Hilton Head Island, where he continued his service as Director of the Lowcountry Community Development Corporation—providing a new home buyers education program and obtaining water facilities for native islanders, Volunteer Marshal at the Heritage Golf Open, active membership at All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, and member of his home owners association.

He is survived by his four children, SM William J Jr. (Marlene), Robert E., Rosalind Thompson (Wendell) and Michael (Linda), his wife, Kathleen Bergo, six grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, three sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm, Friday, April 28, 2017 at Sauls Funeral Home, 90 Simmonsville Rd, Bluffton. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to All Saints Episcopal Church, 3001 Meeting St., Hilton Head Island, SC 29926.