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Tom Carsey

Posted By Hall-Wynne On February 22, 2018 @ 2:50 pm In Durham,Obituaries | 34 Comments

Tom Carsey, age 52, of Durham, NC, died on February 21, 2018, after a stubbornly determined fight with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was born on January 20, 1966, in Omaha, NE, to Dennis and Marsha (Green) Carsey. He graduated from Fremont (NE) High School in 1984.
Tom graduated from Wayne State College (NE) in 1989, where at age 19 he met his best friend and the love of his life Dawn (Warren) Carsey. He earned his PhD in Political Science from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. From there, he taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1995-2000, Florida State University from 2000-2006, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill from 2006-2018. In addition to being a political science professor at UNC, he served as the director of the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science from 2011-2017 — this was a role he cared about immensely.
Tom was a prolific researcher, publishing three books and over 30 journal articles, including articles in all the top journals in political science. He made major contributions to our understanding of numerous aspects of the American political process — state legislative and gubernatorial elections, long-term changes in party politics, legislative politics and policy-making, and the role of race in U.S. voting behavior — and his work also contributed to implementing simulation methods in political science teaching and research.
Tom received honors and recognition for his research, teaching, and service to the discipline. He was given the 2017 Lifetime Career Achievement award from the State Politics and Policy section of the American Political Science Association. He also received the Manning J. Dauer award for exceptional service to the profession from the Southern Political Science Association, and served as their president in 2014-2015. In 2010, he received the Charles Robson Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Instruction from the UNC Political Science Department. Even with all of this, he still never quite gave up on his dream to be a professional baseball player or Spider-Man.
In his work life he loved teaching and was a generous mentor. He was particularly well-known for helping PhD students in political science as they began their careers in academia and beyond. From teaching graduate-level statistics courses to advising theses and dissertations to dispensing advice on a variety of topics, he played an important role in the success of dozens of graduate students during his career. He maintained ties with students long after they graduated, continuing to offer guidance as they worked toward tenure and other career milestones. He was also a tireless cheerleader for the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, whose work and mission really resonated with him.
Tom loved his family deeply and was loved by them in return. He was completely and hopelessly in love with his wife, Dawn, who he married in 1988. He was intensely proud of his children, Simon and Jane, and appreciated their gifts, their idiosyncracies, and the friendship they had with each other. He remained close with his parents, siblings, and their families back home in Nebraska.
He loved sports, followed the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Bulls, and enjoyed running (completing two marathons), bowling, golfing, and playing baseball. He was a dog lover and a cat hater. Loved the mountains but not so much the beach. His wit was quick and clever and usually off-color. He maintained strong ties to his high school gang, friends from grad school, and many colleagues and former students that became good friends along the way. He was proud of his Nebraska roots and the small towns and schools that prepared him for his journey. He loved telling people that he went to a two-room country schoolhouse. He was a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, prided himself in having KISS as well as Anonymous Four in his musical library, and loved movies and a good binge watch on Netflix. He read the Washington Post religiously and loved talking politics.

Tom was diagnosed with ALS 20 months before his death and met its many challenges with amazing patience, stubborn determination, and a good sense of humor when he could. Though ALS took many abilities from him, he maintained that it did not take away the things that really mattered to him: the love and closeness he shared with his family, friends, and students.
Tom did not face this disease alone. Many friends from church (First Presbyterian Church of Durham, NC), work, high school, college, grad school, and current and former grad students provided numerous hours of support, comfort, and good distraction through these past two years. They have provided meals, respite care, and performed a myriad of other helpful tasks.
Tom is survived by his wife Dawn, his son Simon (Fredericksburg, VA), and daughter Jane (Cleveland, OH). He is also survived by his parents Dennis and Marsha Carsey, his sister Vicki (Tom) Brown, his brother Bob (Bob) Carsey, his nephew Jon (Nicole) Brown and their daughters Kendall and Ellie, and niece Becki Brown and her son Drayke. He also loved and was loved by many brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces, and nephews from Dawn’s side of the family, as well as friends, colleagues, and former students nearby and across the country.
Memorials can be made to a travel fund for graduate students, created in his honor, to attend the State Politics and Policy Conference: http://www.apsanet.org/section22 OR to the department of political science at Indiana University where a fund named in his honor created a visiting lectureship and graduate student support. Go to this link and type CARSEY in the “search all funds” box: https://www.myiu.org/one-time-gift

Funeral to be held at First Presbyterian Church of Durham, NC, (Roxboro and Main Sts.) on Saturday, February 24, at 10 AM. Memorial service and inurnment of ashes to be held on Saturday, March 3, at 11 AM in Fremont, NE, at Fremont UCC, 16th & Broad Sts.

The Carsey family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. www.hallwynne.com; select obituaries.


Condolences for the family of “Tom Carsey”

Condolence from Ward Lyles on February 22nd, 2018 10:10 pm

Tom has been, is, and will remain one of the guiding lights for me in my career as an academic. I benefited tremendously from every interaction I had with him at UNC. He exhibited compassion, integrity, and the quest for excellence in his teaching, research, and service.
Much love,
Ward

Ward Lyles
UNC-CH Political Science Department Hanger-on-er (Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning 2012)

Condolence from Sabri Ciftci on February 22nd, 2018 10:33 pm

Dear Dawn, Simon, and Jane
I was deeply saddened to hear that my dear friend and great Mentor Tom passed away. I hope you feel much surrounded by love of your family and friends. Tom will always have a special place in my heart and you will be in my thoughts as you pass through these difficult days.

Condolence from Rich Pacelle on February 22nd, 2018 11:29 pm

Tom was one of the nicest people I had the privilege to meet. He was loved by all. He left a major footprint in the discipline and among those who had the opportunity to know him. He was a prolific scholar but a far greater human being. Deepest sympathies to Dawn and the kids. We were all better for knowing Tom. Fenton and I send our thoughts and condolences to all his family and friends.

Condolence from Jeffrey Dwayne Spier on February 22nd, 2018 11:47 pm

so sorry for your loss the lord gained another angel

Condolence from LInda Dobson on February 23rd, 2018 12:34 am

Dear Dawn, Simon, & Jane,

Please know that you are all in my thoughts & prayers during this very difficult time. May God grant you all His peace & comfort.

With love,

Linda Dobson (FPC)

Condolence from Dorothy Skeens on February 23rd, 2018 12:51 am

Oh Dawn what can I say???? I am truly saddened to hear of Tom’s death……wish my arms were long enough to reach you with HUGS. Please know that I will be praying for you and the family during this difficult time….May Tom go rest high on that mountain and shine down on you and the kids <3

Condolence from Lisa and Bruce Desmarais on February 23rd, 2018 2:03 am

What a privilege it was to have Tom touch our lives. When a parent sends a son or daughter thousands of miles from home to attend college along with pride and excitement, there comes fear of the unknown. While we had faith in Bruce’s abilities to make the most of his time at UNC, how could we be sure we had given him the tools needed to thrive through all the challenges his new world would present to him? Fortunately, he was blessed to come under Tom’s guidance. Not only did Tom complete his formal education, but he also walked him successfully through the path from student to professional with great care, and friendship. I am eternally grateful to Tom for his part in the man my son has become. Without a doubt Bruce and Rebecca’s time at UNC was so positive because of Tom and Dawn’s nurturing and friendship. They talked of the Carsey’s so much, you began to feel like extended family! I considered the times we shared pure pleasure! I was touched by Tom’s kindness and gentle humor.

Dawn, we are heartily sorry for your loss. The world has lost a treasure. Tom will be missed deeply by this family.

Condolence from JOsephine Plihalj on February 23rd, 2018 8:15 am

Dear Dawn and family,You don’t know how sorry I am about your loss, he sounds like a wonderful guy.Will be thinking about you and praying for you, Love Jo

Condolence from Sean Hogan on February 23rd, 2018 8:41 am

Indeed, Tom was a wonderful mentor to his graduate students. I am blessed to have been one of them. I’m forever indebted to him.

Condolence from Deborah Ferguson on February 23rd, 2018 9:51 am

My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. May God give him eternal rest and the family the strength to bear the great pain.

Condolence from David Campbell on February 23rd, 2018 9:58 am

As a fellow political scientist, I feel fortunate that I not only knew Tom through his stellar research but also came to know him personally. He was equal parts brilliant and grounded–not to mention funny. And for all of his many accomplishments, I have never met anyone more self-effacing (many of his best jokes were at his own expense). But perhaps the most impressive thing I will remember from Tom is his inspiring commitment to his students. I learned from him what it means to be a tireless advocate of one’s students.
If only we could bottle that level of commitment and give it to other scholars! His legacy will live on through those students.

I am grateful to have known Tom. He made me a better person.

I express my deepest condolences to his family.

Condolence from Jeff Rump on February 23rd, 2018 10:09 am

Though I never had the pleasure to meet Tom. From talking with his siblings and their children I know he was a very very respected man in his field and especially in their wonderful family

Condolence from Scot Schraufnagel on February 23rd, 2018 10:16 am

An epitome of grace and class. Not sure that I have met a more gracious, considerate, or generous individual.

Condolence from Robert (Bob) Howard on February 23rd, 2018 11:15 am

I am so sorry. I had the opportunity to work with Tom when he was the President of the SPSA and I just came on as the Executive Director. I laughed out loud at his wit and dry sense of humor, and he was always supportive. We could disagree without it ever being personal. I am so glad I had the chance to get to know him. My life, like so many others, was enriched through our interaction

Condolence from Donna Kaye on February 23rd, 2018 11:27 am

Dawn,
I am so deeply sorry for your loss of your beloved husband Tom. No spouse could have been braver or more caring and supportive than you in the face of this horrible illness. May his essence live on in your heart. I’ll be in touch with you in the coming weeks. In sympathy, Donna

Condolence from John Kincaid on February 23rd, 2018 11:30 am

Please accept my sincerest condolences upon the untimely loss of your beloved husband and father. Words can offer little comfort. Hopefully your wonderful memories will punctuate your grief. Best wishes.

Condolence from Dee Leeper Mohr on February 23rd, 2018 12:37 pm

I remember Tom was a wonderful person. As a classmate he was very intelligent and had the kind of personality you wanted to be around. My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time.

Condolence from Marge Hamburg on February 23rd, 2018 12:40 pm

Dear Dawn & family-
Our deepest sympathy on the loss of Tom- please know our thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this time-
Marge and Gary Hamburg (Tara’s parents)

Condolence from Rebecca Harvard Barnes on February 23rd, 2018 1:06 pm

Our love goes out too all of you, Dawn, Simon, Jane and families. Tom was an amazing human being and will be missed dearly.

Condolence from Jill Stevens on February 23rd, 2018 2:12 pm

My thoughts and prayers to Dawn, the kids, and all of Tom’s family. He was a fighter and will be truly missed.

Condolence from Lisa Hamburg on February 23rd, 2018 9:29 pm

Dawn, I’m so sorry for your families loss. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

God be with you all.
Lisa Hamburg

Condolence from Joe Walker on February 23rd, 2018 10:08 pm

Dearest Carsey Family,

You have my deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Condolence from John Weatherwax on February 23rd, 2018 10:15 pm

Thoughts and prayers are with his family. I went to college with Tom and Dawn and he was inspiration for me to be Willy the Wildcat back in the days.

Condolence from Lora on February 23rd, 2018 10:42 pm

I loved reading this story of Tom’s life. There was much there that I didn’t know but was happy to read. Love to you all. We still miss you so much in Tallahassee.

Condolence from Hendrika Vande Kemp on February 23rd, 2018 10:50 pm

I hold you in my heart and prayers, and look forward to singing in the service tomorrow.

Condolence from Bo Ram Kwon on February 23rd, 2018 11:26 pm

Tom was one of the most personally and academically helpful people during grad school. He served on my doctoral committee and gave his utmost support. I am grateful to have known him and I am so sad to see him leave so soon. My condolences go to his family and UNC faculty. God bless.

Condolence from Jerry Hart on February 24th, 2018 9:38 am

I am so sorry for your loss. My condolences to you along with my prayers. May God wrap you in His loving arms and comfort you.

Condolence from Serge Severenchuk on February 24th, 2018 3:22 pm

I am deeply sorry for your loss. There are people in your life that come and go, and then there are those who make a permanent imprint. Tom seemed to make a lasting impact on pretty much anyone who he worked with. Within approximately 3.5 years in the PhD program, Tom has made a tremendous impact on me. Tom was very generous with his time, and I learned a ton from our weekly meetings. Whether our conversations were about my work, his work, or something a bit random, I always looked forward to our chats. Tom took a special interest in my development and helped me through the tough parts of the PhD program. All of my research agenda came out from a project we were working on together after my first year.

Tom was an intellectual role model to me. He was objective, forthright, insightful, humble, and careful in his thought process. He inspired me to grow in these qualities, and reach for new levels of understanding. For this I am very grateful. Perhaps more importantly, Tom inspired me to be a better person. He inspired me to live a life in a way that makes a lasting impact on others. I could not ask for a better advisor! What a pleasure it has been working, studying, and learning under the guidance of Tom.

Condolence from Larry Dodd on February 25th, 2018 5:29 pm

To Dawn, Tom’s Children, and the Extended Family,

My deepest sympathy to you all. I knew Tom best through our service together in the Southern Political Science Association and deeply appreciated and respected his leadership skills, always touched off with his wonderful sense of humor.

I will keep you in my thoughts over the coming weeks and months as you struggle with Tom’s absence and your heartbreak.

Tom was one-of-a-kind. I was fortunate to know him and will miss his presence enormously.

Larry

Condolence from Kim Andringa on February 27th, 2018 2:36 pm

Dear Dawn,
I just heard about Tom’s passing. I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Jane, Simon and your family during this very difficult time. Wishing you much strength and peace.
Fondly,
Kim

Condolence from Alice Ammerman on February 27th, 2018 9:02 pm

I was very sad to learn today of Tom’s passing but knew that it was coming. Tom and I were Center/Institute Director colleagues and I always felt that Tom stood up for what was right and good.. and did this with humor and good grace. Even with compromised lung function, Tom spoke up on important issues and had a critical influence in moving things in a just and common sense direction. I will miss Tom greatly but feel privileged to have worked with him. I also very much enjoyed working with Jane during her winter break. Like her Dad, she is kind and committed to good work and I’m sure will make great contributions.

Condolence from Dean Jacobs on February 28th, 2018 11:28 pm

My deepest sympathies to the Carsey family.
Tom was a great person, who passionately cared about the world and doing his part to make it better. It was a gift to share in his journey.

Warm regards,
Dean Jacobs

Condolence from Sonia on March 2nd, 2018 8:36 pm

Dawn,

Condolences to you and your family.

I’m so glad we were able to spend Memorial Day and a few other gatherings with other ALS folks.

Love and hugs
Sonia and Henry

Condolence from Jean Karlen on March 5th, 2018 2:10 pm

Dawn, I only heard of Tom’s passing today – a chance Facebook posting . . I am so sorry for your loss and certainly would have been at the Fremont service if I had known. Tom was such a wonderful guy in all respects. He will be remembered fondly by all who knew him. If you are still in the area, I would love to see you. Thinking of you and your family. Take care. Jean

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