Joe Carroll died peacefully in his family's home in Sacramento, California on Friday, June 14, 2013 after an extended battle with lung cancer. He was 81.
Carroll was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 7, 1932 to Joseph Francis Carroll and Marion Rose Carroll (Carroll was also her maiden name). Joe's mother died in 1955 and his father passed away in 1965. His father, a retired U.S. Naval Commander and decorated WWI veteran, was a New York-Central railroad executive, whose job took the family to San Francisco in 1935.
Carroll graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1949. He was the sports editor of the IGNATION newspaper while at SI. He went on to earn a degree in English from the University of San Francisco in 1953. He attended college with basketball greats Bill Russell and K.C. Jones who were both later inducted in the NBA Hall of Fame. Carroll was there when the USF football team, led by Ollie Matson, Gino Marchetti, and Bob Sinclair, was undefeated.
He joined the staff of the San Francisco Examiner the day after his graduation from USF in June of 1953. His father always took pride in the fact that his son, Joe, got a job on the San Francisco Examiner as a "cub" reporter without having studied journalism (he majored in English). After assignments to the police beat and the copy desk, he joined Dick Nolan in 1958 to start the brand new "The City" column. Carroll was Nolan's assistant, contact man, and alter ego. Carroll and Nolan built a huge cadre of contacts all over the Bay Area to help get the news to fill a 20-inch space on the inside front page of the Examiner six days a week. In 1956, he was elected the first vice-president of the San Francisco-Oakland Newspaper Guild (AFL-CIO).
In 1963, he met the former owner/publisher of the Auburn Journal, Bill Cassidy, at The Press Club, a well-known watering hole for news types in San Francisco. Cassidy persuaded Carroll to become a reporter for the Auburn Journal and, as a side note, work as the public relations man advocating for the proposed Auburn Dam. After accepting Cassidy's offer, Carroll moved to Auburn where he lived in the old Auburn Hotel, which he loved because of their Zanzivar Cocktail Lounge and because they "turned down his bed and cleaned the room every day." President Ronald Reagan (when he was Governor of California) would stop in for a "cold one" after riding his horses in North Auburn before returning to Sacramento. Carroll was widely regarded as the foremost expert on the Auburn Dam, including Congressional authorization for the project and the subsequent stalling of the project due to earthquake, environmental, and financial concerns.
Carroll jokingly moonlighted as a Frank Sinatra impersonator at Lou La Bonte's restaurant after running into Sinatra in 1968 when the crooner couldn't get over the pass due to bad weather. According to Carroll, Sinatra bought a round of drinks for everyone in the place.
Carroll worked for the Auburn Journal from 1963-1976. He then became a speechwriter/legislative aide in the California Legislature to Republican State Senator Ray Johnson and Democratic Speaker of the Assembly Norm Waters from 1976-1990. After his sixteen years in the legislature, Carroll returned to his roots as a reporter for the Auburn Sentinel where he remained until 2008.
Carroll's reporting expertise ran the gamut from prep and junior college sports, murders, trials, high profile divorces, labor strikes, prison riots, airplane crashes, and even an execution at San Quentin Prison, to penning a widely read column covering governmental and political issues affecting city, county, and state issues.
Carroll chronicled the major news and political events of San Francisco, Auburn and Placer County for more than five decades. He captured, entertained, and excited local readers through his spirited commentary first as the Auburn Oracle at the Auburn Journal and later as the Auburn Augur in the Auburn Sentinel. He was a fixture in the corridors and chambers for local government earned the respect and appreciation from his peers, associates, officials, and loyal readers.
Carroll is survived by his children, who were always his pride and joy, Joe, Jim, Melissa, and Connie; and grandchildren Katie, Stephanie, Liz, and Riley. He is preceded in death by his son Patrick Carroll and sister Mary Faith Neely. Carroll was also a great lover of animals, as he adopted various cats and dogs throughout his lifetime.
A viewing will be held on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at Chapel of the Hills, located at 1331 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA, with a vigil to follow at 7:00 p.m. at Chapel of the Hills. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, located at 11600 Atwood Road, Auburn, CA with a graveside service to follow at New Auburn Cemetery, located at 1040 Collins Drive, Auburn, CA, and a reception will follow the burial at Tahoe Club, located at 902 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA. Maps will be handed out at the funeral. There is an online guestbook available at www.chapelofthehills-auburn.com
In lieu of flowers, please send to donations to the Placer SPCA, online at http://www.placerspca.org/donate.htm