When Rufus Carr turned 90, he told a group of friends, including a Jacksonville News reporter, that he and his long-time friend Homer Barnwell, then 87, “was old beach buddies. Me and Homer, we hit Normandy Beach together in World War II.”
That gathering was in 2012. Barnwell died the next year at the age of 88. Carr died Jan. 15 at Jacksonville Medical Center at the age of 96. Funeral services were at noon Saturday at St. Paul’s CME Church. The Rev. Hurley V. Grissom officiated. Burial was in the City Cemetery. K. L. Brown Funeral Home was in charge of the services.
His granddaughter, Shoshana Nikki Carr, said her grandfather was the epitome of a man in her eyes.
“He was a man of honor who cared for his family, worked hard, served God, his country and others,” she said. “He has had a lasting impression on many people. For that, I am forever proud and forever grateful.”
Carr was drafted in 1942. He landed at Omaha Beach during the invasion and then moved with his unit to Marseilles. It took about a week to get down there, Carr said later.
“Everything was tore up,” he said. “The railroad tracks was blowed up, no train stations. I was right up there at the Bulge (Battle of the Bulge).”
Carr said he traveled all over Europe but spent the majority of the two and a half years he was there in northern France.
“We moved back into staging camp, getting ready to go to Japan,” he said. “But then they dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.”
He stayed in Europe for six months after the war was over, then returned stateside and was discharged at Fort McPherson near Atlanta. He returned to Jacksonville for a short time. He left for Detroit hoping to find work. That didn’t work out well for him, so he returned to Jacksonville to work construction in the post-war boom.
He and Jewell Thomas married in 1952. They had seven children. The home he made for his family was on property initially purchased by his aunt Emma Moore in 1917, just two blocks from where he was born in 1921 at the site where Jacksonville Home Center is today.
“After the first frost, Jewell made a fire and kept it going until spring,” Carr said. “She kept me in the woods cutting wood all the time.”
For a while Carr worked at Jacksonville State University where he suffered a life-threatening injury.
“I liked to got killed up there,” he said. “I went through all Normandy and France and everywhere and didn’t get a scratch on me. I come back to Jacksonville and like to got my arm cut off.”
The glass from an old bathroom window came loose from the frame, slicing a major blood vessel leading into his hand.
Carr continued to work construction for many years. In 1970 he went to work for the maintenance department in the Anniston City Schools. After he retired in 1984, he worked for about 12 years as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels.
Carr was preceded in death by his wife; his children, Bruce Lamar Carr, Beverly Carr Gates and Valerie Carr; and his brothers, Charles Lee Carr and Milton Carr.
He is survived by children, Rufus Carr, Jr., Bernard Carr, Milton Carr, Michigan and Crystal Richardson; a granddaughter he raised, Shoshana “Nikki” Carr; 17 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren; nieces and nephew, Charlene Elston, Carolyn Green, Bobby Carr; and several great nieces and nephews.
Janie Easterwood, retired accounts specialist in the water works, gas and sewer office remembers Carr.
“He was a quiet, kind and honest man who treated everyone the same,” she said. “I talked to him each month when he paid his bill.”
His friend, Charles W. Moore Sr., retired from the military said that he and Carr had many conversations about the military and life.
“He spoke to me about World War II and his landing on Normandy Beach,” Moore said. “He spoke of it as a job that he had to do, and even events before and after the landing, and the end of the war.”
Moore said his friend spoke vividly of the “good and the bad.“ and how God had blessed his survival. He always remained positive
“Mr. Carr made it possible for me to be a good soldier in peace and war, from the 1960s through the 1980s,” Moore said. “If he had claimed me, I would have been proud to be his son. As a father, I would hope that all my children revere me as I did Mr. Carr. Thank you, Mr. Carr, for allowing me to share a small part of your life.”
Contact Margaret at email@example.com.