Grand Marshall, In Loving Memory

Hollis Carr as the Grand Marshall of the Zenith New Orleans Jazz Band

“It doesn’t mean a thing if it ain’t got the swing.”

— Duke Ellington

The life of our neighbor, Hollis Taylor Carr, was celebrated over the weekend at a big social gathering with family, friends and neighbors in North Berkeley.  Hollis passed away on Nov 2, election night, with a big smile on his face after learning that Jerry Brown had been elected and not his opponent.  His interest in politics was compelling.  We first got to know each other in 2002 as co-precinct captains. We attended meetings and knocked on doors together in support of Gordon Wozniak for the Berkeley City Council.  He was always moved to action by the right cause.

Hollis joined the US Navy at age 17. He served in both WW II and Korean Wars.  Yet like other servicemen of color, he came home to face discrimination.  His commitment to justice and equal rights propelled Hollis throughout his life.  You can read more about his life in the December 2nd edition of The Berkeley Times, a new community newspaper.

“Hollis and Frankie Carr were among the first to break the ‘color barrier”’ in Bay Area Real Estate.  They purchased and moved their young family to Berkeley, which was the subject of a racial covenant restricting race-based ownership.  The US Supreme Court later ruled that such race-based restrictions on home ownership violated the Constitution.”

– Biography, “In Loving Memory of Hollis T. Carr

Hollis had many interests and talents.  One friend admired how Hollis could weave a web of magic around those he cared about. A granddaughter said he made it clear that his grandchildren could do no wrong in his eyes.  Family was the most important thing in his life. In recent years, Hollis lived with his son Allen Carr and daughter-in-law Kristen Jensen. Hollis enjoyed driving the three children to school and other activities.

Music was also an essential part of Hollis’ life.  He had been a trombone player in the Naval Band.  His favorite kind of music was jazz.  For more than 50 years he attended the Monterrey Jazz Festival, only missing once.  Hollis was selected as the Grand Marshall of the Zenith New Orleans Jazz Band, which plays every year in the Piedmont 4th of July parade.

At the celebration the band played a series of pieces which made it hard to sit in your seat.  Hollis would have enjoyed that.

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