Larry Carp, 86, was lawyer, diplomat, playwright

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Larry Carp, without hyperbole, could be described as a true Renaissance man.  

Mr. Carp, a partner in the law firm of Carp and (Stephen) Sexauer, who was recognized for his genius for diplomacy at the highest levels of American government, and who also authored several original songs and musical shows, died Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in Town and Country.  He was 86.  

Mr. Carp had suffered a heart attack after he was briefly hospitalized for pneumonia, according to Judy Rawdon, who had been his partner since 1969.

“Larry is a consummate professional and a true Renaissance person. He has an interest in many diverse subjects like music, art and science. He probably has as much commitment to public service as anybody I know,” said fellow attorney Eric Banks in a 2006 profile of Carp in the Jewish Light.  

Mr. Carp was born in Granite City, Ill. on Jan. 26, 1926, the son of Avery and Ruth Silverstein Carp. The family later moved to University City.

He graduating with honors from the private Taylor School in Clayton and was admitted to Washington University at age 16.  

A year later, as World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Army and served as part of a contingent to replace soldiers killed in the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Carp’s intellectual and analytical abilities were recognized by his associates in the military and he was selected to study at the Sorbonne in Paris.

In 1948, Mr. Carp became an intern at the United Nations. He worked for the U.N. General Assembly in Paris and became an assistant to the legal adviser to the UN Conciliation Commission at the Arab–Israeli talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, and also served as assistant to the UN observer at the International Red Cross Conference in Geneva.

Mr. Carp returned to St. Louis after two years in Paris. He was encouraged by his father to share his intellectual skills in public service. He earned both his undergraduate and his law degree at Washington University. Mr. Carp later won a Rotary Fellowship, which enabled him to earn a master’s degree in international studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

He served in the State Department during the administrations of Presidents Harry S Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

He served as an aide to Sen. Paul Douglas, D-Ill., and to Sen. Thomas C. Hennings Jr., D-Mo. He also served as acting chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Constitutional Rights.

Mr. Carp sought elective office in 1960, when he won the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District, but lost in the general election to Republican Thomas B. Curtis.

Mr. Carp served from 1966 through 1978 as commissioner and vice chairman of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights under governors of both major parties. Over last weekend, Mr. Carp’s family was informed that Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., arranged for the flag over the U.S. Capitol Building to be lowered to half staff in his memory.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton named Mr. Carp to serve as a U.S. public delegate to the United Nations. The Senate confirmed his appointment with the rank of ambassador, in recognition of his long experience and unique skills in quiet diplomacy. In 2001, he assisted American negotiators on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and addressed the U.N. on war crimes issues related to the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Carp passionately sought peace in the Middle East throughout his long career and frequently contributed articles to the Jewish Light on issues related to a two-state solution.

Among several songs and plays Mr. Carp wrote through the years staring in his Army days, was “The Descendant,” which was about the quest for peace in the Middle East.  He also wrote “Famous Last Words,” a romantic comedy, which was performed at Webster Hall, and “For the Love of Adam,” about Adam and his romantic interests in the Garden of Eden.  That play was performed at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City.

Mr. Carp never sought personal publicity, with one possible exception. When he arrived in Paris in 1945, he found to his dismay that there was no popcorn available at movie houses in the capital of France.  His parents sent him a large quantity of un-popped popcorn, and he began to prepare the confection for house parties he attended. He later wrote a song about his introduction of the treat to Parisians, “Popcorn in Paris.”

Mr. Carp was a member of Congregation Shaare Emeth since 1966 and a longtime supporter of the Jewish Light and the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis.  He was a member of the Barbara and Michael Newmark Human Rights Institute of the JCRC.

A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Congregation Shaare Emeth, where Rabbi Emeritus Jeffrey Stiffman will officiate.  Burial was last Friday at the New Mount Sinai Cemetery.

Survivors, in addition to his partner Judy Rawdon, include his sister, Lois Marshall (Kenneth) of Clayton.