Monroe J. Carell Jr.Monroe J. Carell Jr., the Nashville businessman and philanthropist who built the largest parking company in the world, died June 20th, 2008 at the age of 76. The cause of death was cancer.
A Nashville native, Carell assumed control of Central Parking Corporation (CPC) from his father in the late 1960s, and built it from 10 lots to more than 4,000 facilities around the world. Central Parking parked an average of 2 million automobiles a day in facilities spread across the United States, Europe, South America and Asia.
Carell sold the company, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, in May 2007 in a deal worth approximately $725 million to the shareholders. Since retiring from Central Parking last year, Carell operated Carell LLC, a family real estate investment company.
Within development circles, Carell was known as an authority in the operation and design of mixed-use projects that included office and retail establishments. He was associated in the functional design phase of projects including Canary Wharf in London, Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Gallery at Harbor Place in Baltimore, Md.
“I can’t imagine having the opportunity to work with someone more focused, more intent on being the best at what he did than Monroe,” said James H. Bond, president of International Operations at Central Parking.
“We were able to attract very bright college graduates when the business hadn’t seen a lot of that before,” Bond said. “His vision was to prepare people for the next level, not just the job they held at the time.”
Bond said two deals stand out in his time with Carell and Central Parking. The first was Crown Center in Kansas City, where the company had initially actually lost the bid.“The (winning company) failed to show up for a couple of early meetings, and we got a call to come down and do the work,” Bond said. “We’re still there today, 37 years later.”
The second deal was in 1992, when development of new properties had slowed. Central Parking signed a lease deal with Meyers Parking, located in New York and with 90 properties throughout the Northeast and on the West Coast. “That (deal) gave us great credibility,” said Bond. “Every time he needed to make the right decision, he made the right decision.”
Nashville businessman and friend Ed Nelson said Carell was indefatigable on the projects that mattered to him, particularly projects involving young people.
“He built a role (in Nashville) because he volunteered for things he was interested in,” Nelson said. “He was international in his thinking, and whatever he was doing, he became a leader in it.”
Carell graduated from Father Ryan High School. After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, he returned to Nashville.
Carell graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt in 1959 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. He retained a strong link to the university. He served as a member of the Board of Trust for Vanderbilt from 1991 until his death. He chaired the university-wide “Shape the Future” campaign, which raised more than $1.25 billion two years ahead of schedule. The campaign was so successful the goal was raised to $1.75 billion. Carell was particularly passionate about scholarships, and he and his wife established the Carell Scholarship Fund at Vanderbilt.
Carell was preceded in death by his parents, Monroe Joseph Carell Sr., and Edith Haswell Carell. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ann Scott Carell; three daughters, all of Nashville, Julia Carell Stadler (George), Edith Carell Johnson (David), and Kathryn Carell Brown (David); and six grandchildren, Julia Claire Stadler, George Monroe Stadler, Carell Elizabeth Brown, David Nicholas Brown, William Carell Johnson and Ann Scott Johnson. He is also survived by his brother, James W. Carell (Jan).
In lieu of flowers, the Carell family asks that memorial donations be made to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Gift Records Office, VU Station B 357727, Nashville, TN 37235-7727 or the St. Cecilia Congregation, c/o Development Office, 801 Dominican Drive, Nashville, TN 37228-1909.