Robert Dale Carey was born in Fremont, Nebraska, on October 8, 1923, to Raymond Burdette and Myrtle (Thompson) Carey. One of five children, Robert lived with the family while their father moved up from a teacher to school superintendent in Omaha, Beatrice, Grand Island, Stromsburg and Gering. Robert graduated from Gering High School in 1941, Scottsbluff Junior College in 1943, and studied chemical engineering at the University of Nebraska. He worked briefly for Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, in development of synthetic rubber and polymers for WWII needs. Robert married LaDonna Ruth Clemings in 1946 in Baldwin City, Kansas, at the First Methodist Church. They moved to Denver, Colorado, where Robert completed a B.Sc. degree at the University of Denver in 1949 while working at the U.S. Rubber Company.
Bob and Ladonna spent Sunday’s teaching and sponsoring high school youth activities at Trinity Methodist Church in Denver, and then made a commitment to serve as Methodist missionaries teaching youth in mission schools abroad. They served under the United Methodist Board of Missions from 1950 to 1976 in Liberia, West Africa. During furloughs Robert earned an M.A. in Education at Peabody/Vanderbilt University in 1959, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1969. He conducted research on church-sponsored education and national development in Nigeria, which was published on demand in 1971 in the U.S. and England.
The Carey’s adopted two children, Anne in 1954 and John in 1963. LaDonna served in Liberia as a teacher, treasurer and comptroller. Robert taught and administrated in Liberia on high school and college levels at the College of West Africa and Cuttington University College, and served on national committees on new developments in curriculum, testing and rural school leadership. He helped develop a Methodist your vocational conference, a YMCA Hi-Y program, a Christian Education course for pastors, and to build more United Methodist schools. He participated in conferences on education in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zaire during the 1960’s when African countries were gaining their independence and the churches were transitioning from missionary to national leadership. By 1976 Robert and LaDonna had helped prepare Liberians to replace themselves as the Mission Board reduced its support for schools.
Returning to the U.S. in 1976, the Carey’s moved to Kentucky, where Robert served as professor and later executive vice president of Union College in Barbourville from 1977-1984. With funding from the Liberian government Robert helped develop an M.A. degree program for Liberian school principals at Union College. Students from this program and from Robert’s earlier years in Liberia became leaders in their nation in church and government. Retiring to Kansas, Robert wrote Freedom Ships, a prize-winning historical novel about Liberia’s founding, available on demand from Amazon.com. He volunteered at KRTA and AARP. He supported LaDonna in her study at St. Paul School of Theology and her service as a United Methodist minister 1985 to 1991. The Carey’s retired to Baldwin City, then to Aldersgate Village in Topeka in 1997, and became members of Lowman United Methodist Church. “Dr. Bob” taught creative writing for seniors, was active in the Kansas Authors Club, and won awards for his wood carving. His last creation was a clay sculpture of LaDonna.
He was preceded in death by his wife, LaDonna Carey and siblings, Alan D. Carey, Max R. Carey, Jean Carey Hatch and Doris Carey Chwirks
Robert is survived by two children, Anne (Ron) Westegate of Baldwin City; John (Janelle) Carey of Lecompton; four grandchildren, Heather (Jr.) Reed, Mark (Krist) Westgate, Devin Carey, Chandler Carey and four great-grandchildren, Skylar, Masen, Emma and Brooklyn Reed.
Robert Carey's life was dedicated to his Church and Missions outreach in the world. Please give to your Church's Mission program on behalf of Robert Carey.
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