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Carrigan, William M.
D: 30 Nov 2000
M: Ramona Newman

FN: Michael Patrick Carrigan
MN: Mary Hannah Maguire

William Carrigan was the last survivor of Michael Patrick Carrigan's immediate family. William, or Bill Carrigan, became a prominent member of Washington D.C. society. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Catholic University of America and a major contributor to the Catholic Church. He is the owner of a white-pillared mansion in Washington D.C. that was built in 1810. For many years, he and his wife hosted a Fourth of July party for the entire county. Chet Huntley was a long time friend who attended many of these parties.

William M. Carrigan


November 30, 2000

Delivered by Presiding Priest at Funeral

Submitted to the website by Prof. Michael Rustad

Bill Carrigan was, by any measure, a remarkable man. He was remarkable for what you might call the trajectory of his life, starting on farms in Iowa and Minnesota, serving with the Red Cross in World War II, moving to Washington and achieving distinction as a business man and a planner with great vision, remaining active until well into his 90's. Along the way he was known for his tender devotion to Ramona, his wife of 51 years, and for his keen interest in the members of his far-flung family. You know, when a man dies, you expect his children to come to the funeral. But we are surrounded by nephews, nieces, great-nephews, great-nieces -- from Missouri, Colorado, Hawaii. That strikes me as strong evidence of the affection he felt for them - and they for him. He was remarkable as a Catholic, devout, faithful, a Knight of Malta, decorated by Pope Paul VI. He might well have attended 10,000 Masses in this very church, since he went to early morning Mass every day of his life as long as health permitted. And I mean every morning. I used to live practically across the street, so I could walk to church. I remember some mornings after, or during, a heavy snowfall. I would just be thinking to myself that no 93-year old man is going to get here this morning, when I would notice a familiar vehicle pulling up, and out would step the intrepid Mr. Carrigan. What the trip between his home and the church had been like was one of those things I expect you didn't really want to know. When you thought of Bill Carrigan, you thought instinctively of Padre Pio, the Italian monk, mystic and stigmatic whom Bill met during World War II and to whom he formed a lifelong attachment. When relatively few Americans had even heard of Padre Pio, Bill was beating the drums for his beatification. He talked to everyone he met about Padre Pio. He wrote letters and newspaper columns, organized Masses in Padre Pio's memory, sponsored books and videos. I was once told that he had distributed over 1 million Padre Pio prayer cards. And Bill had the great joy of being present in St. Peter's Square last year when the Holy Father beatified his friend. Bill was one of a kind. He was intensely curious about everything -- people, places, events, art. Maybe that's one of the reasons he was a world-class talker. Few people ever had a brief chat with Bill. He had a tremendously varied experience in his long life, and he loved to share it with you. It could be disconcerting when you sat down for a chat with Bill, since he would usually rest his hand on Padre Pio's head -- the head of a statue he kept by his chair. In his later years, when he needed a cane to get around, he named the cane George, and the polite thing to do when you encountered Bill was also to say hello to George, and inquire about his health.

But if I were trying to select one characteristic which was most remarkable of all, I would say it was his absolutely extraordinary generosity. And it showed itself in many unexpected ways. He was an exceptional philanthropist, supporting hospitals, eye clinics, foreign missions, and innumerable other charitable organizations. He was intensely dedicated to the prolife cause. But I think his greatest joy -- aside from the cause of his beloved Padre Pio - was Catholic schools. He supported many of them, and was instrumental in the founding of Christendom College in Virginia. Not long before his death, he completed a project he had talked about for years, when he contributed valuable real estate to a small Catholic school in Washington, Virginia. A few years ago, when financial pressures threatened the continued existence of Mount deSales Academy near Baltimore, he gave crucial and continuing support to keep the school alive and flourishing. You can see some of the fruits of that generosity in the girls and young women from DeSales Academy who are with us -- some of them singing for us -- this morning. Bill would have loved that. I mean he does love that. And those are just a handful of what I would call Bill's public charities. As part of my legal work, I was astonished to discover that he had dozens -- maybe hundreds -- of private charities, too. Men and women who were in some sort of need, temporary or permanent. Small gifts and large, loans, whatever it took to help the person to keep going. The Gospel tells us to give to everyone who begs from you. As much as any man I ever knew, Bill Carrigan seems to have done exactly that. Bill was not a man who limited his generosity to writing a check. He hosted a 4th of July party every year for many years for the entire town of Washington, Virginia, where he maintained a second home. And he was generous with his time, too. One memory especially dear to me is our late mutual friend Dr. John Kuhn, who died almost four years ago. After John's cancer made it impossible for him to drive, Bill -- who must have been 94 years old at the time -- would stop every day to pick him up and bring him to Mass. Bill always had time for a friend, and most especially a friend who wanted to practice his faith. He was known and loved by doctors, lawyers, Cardinals, schoolchildren, janitors, bank tellers. As someone once said of the Catholic Church, "Here comes everybody!" Bill loved that. He seemed to have time for them all. He was a man of virtue -- of many virtues, really. Perhaps his final gift to us is the challenge to try to imitate those virtues. May his soul, and the soul of his dear wife Ramona, and all the souls of the faithful departed, in the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

William M. Carrigan

Real Estate Investor

William M. Carrigan, 98, who bought and sold commercial and industrial properties in the Washington area for about half a century and was active in Catholic and philanthropic organizations, died of a heart attack Nov. 20 at his home in Kensington.

Mr. Carrigan was a native of Iowa who attended Arizona State and Catholic universities and began in the real estate business before World War II. During the war, he was a field director for the American Red Cross in Italy.

While in Italy, he befriended Padre Pio, a controversial Capuchin friar revered for bearing stigmata that resembled the final wounds of Jesus. Mr. Carrigan became active in a long-running campaign to have the monk canonized. In September, Pope John Paul II finally beatified Padre Pio, who had died in 1968. Mr. Carrigan was a consultant to Catholic Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle. He helped found Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., the International Eye Foundation and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. He was a member of the Order of Malta.

He had a second home in Washington, Va., where he hosted annual Fourth of July festivities for the town and donated land for the Child Care and Learning Center.

His wife, Ramona Carrigan, died in 1989. There are no immediate survivors.

Ramona Newman Carrigan

Washington, D.C. Teacher

Ramona Newman Carrigan, 86, a retired Washington school teacher and the former president and office manager for the Daughters of American Colonists, died May 9 at Potomac Valley Nursing Center in Kensington of heart ailments and complications after a stroke.

Mrs. Carrigan was national president of the Daughters of the American Colonists for three years beginning in 1958, and during that period she established the organization's office on Massachusetts Avenue NW. She was the volunteer office manager from 1960 to 1985.

She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and in the years before World War II was in charge of its annual Pages Ball.

A resident of Kensington, Mrs. Carrigan was born in Philadelphia and moved to Washington as a child. She graduated from Central High School and Catholic University. From 1924 until she retired in 1952, she was a D.C. school teacher, and she was assigned at Oyster Elementary School for most of that period. She had also taught at West School.

With her husband, William M. Carrigan, Mrs. Carrigan established the Magi Endowment for the Liturgical Arts at Catholic University. In the late 1960s they operated an antiques store in Washington, Va., where they had a country home. From 1961 until last year they gave an annual Fourth of July picnic for the community there.

Mrs. Carrigan was a member of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kensington.

Survivors include her husband, of Kensington.