Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Charles Carroll, 1906 - 2003: Legendary Husky, veteran prosecutor

Seattle Times staff reporters

Charles O. "Chuck" Carroll, one of the most revered football players in University of Washington history before a 22-year tenure as King County prosecutor, died Monday morning at Swedish Hospital. He was 96.

One of only three Huskies to have numbers retired by the school — his was No. 2 — Mr. Carroll was an All-American running back in 1927-28 and a National Football Foundation Hall of Fame inductee in 1964.

"These old eyes have never seen a greater player," legendary Stanford coach "Pop" Warner once said of Mr. Carroll.

After earning a law degree from Washington in 1932, Mr. Carroll became a key Republican Party figure in the state and was appointed King County prosecutor in 1948. After his defeat in the 1970 Republican Party primary, he returned to private law practice until 1985.

"He was really a giant of his era, both in the sports and legal arenas," said King County prosecutor Norm Maleng. "He was a grand old man, and I miss him. I really do."

Maleng was one of several key political and business figures who lunched occasionally with Mr. Carroll at his home on Capitol Hill. It included former Govs. Albert Rosellini and John Spellman, former mayor Wes Uhlman and U.S. District Court Judge Carolyn Dimmick.

The group had scheduled a luncheon for Monday, but Mr. Carroll, losing strength in recent days, was admitted Sunday afternoon to Swedish. That night, he called his son Chuck Jr., who lives near Hood Canal.

"He said, 'You've been a wonderful son,' " said Chuck Carroll Jr. " 'I love you, but it's time to go.' "

That night, Don McKeta struggled to sleep. McKeta, himself a decorated Huskies player (1958-60), had become extremely close to Mr. Carroll, visiting and calling him often in recent years.

"I got up and went down (to Swedish) at about 4 in the morning," said McKeta. "He was wide awake. I didn't want him to be alone."

McKeta said Mr. Carroll slipped into a coma a couple of hours later. He died about 7:55 a.m.

Among the greatest

On a list of Washington's football greats, Mr. Carroll, a 195-pound running back, would rank no lower than top five among most historians of the program. Roland Kirkby, who was a member of Washington's Fearsome Foursome backfield in 1950, and George Wilson, an All-America selection in 1925, were the only other Huskies to have their jerseys retired by the school.

Mr. Carroll scored 17 touchdowns in 1928, a UW record that wasn't exceeded until 1996 by Corey Dillon. He still holds the school record for points in a game with 36 against Puget Sound that year.

He was the second UW player named to the football Hall of Fame, following Wilson.

Mr. Carroll played in an era when participants rarely left the field. Nicknamed the "Iron Man," he was said to have missed only six minutes of play during his three years at the UW.

Much of the legend around Mr. Carroll surrounded his performances against Stanford, one of the West Coast powers of the '20s. After a 12-0 Washington loss at Palo Alto in 1928, president-elect Herbert Hoover, a Stanford alumnus, said, "That man is the captain of my All-America team."

Stanford players hoisted Mr. Carroll to their shoulders and carried him off the field.

He played both running back and linebacker. Describing the fundamental appeal of football for him, Mr. Carroll said two years ago, "I loved it. You'd stand behind the line of scrimmage, and it was either him or you."

The Huskies went 17-4 during Mr. Carroll's first two varsity seasons. In 1928, Washington went 7-4 but won only twice in six Pacific Coast Conference games. Said Mr. Carroll, "We couldn't beat Garfield High School."

He would have known. He was a 1925 Garfield grad, telling the Times in 2001, "I'm so glad I went to Garfield. It was by far the most cosmopolitan high school in the state. We had whites, blacks, Japanese, Chinese, and it seemed as if all of us were colorblind. I'm sorry it isn't that way anymore."

'Good, honest, capable person'

Born in 1906, he was one of five siblings of Thomas J. and Maude Carroll, who moved to the area in 1880 and founded Carroll's Fine Jewelry, still on Fourth Avenue and run by the daughter of his brother Herbert. Chuck Carroll was the last living sibling.

At Garfield, Mr. Carroll won 16 athletic letters and edited the school newspaper. Later, he married Alyce Grangaard — he called her "Granny" — and they had two children.

Stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco during World War II, Mr. Carroll attained the rank of colonel. He was briefly in private law practice before he became a prosecutor.

"He was a good, honest, capable person," said Seattle parking-lot entrepreneur Joe Diamond, 96, who knew Mr. Carroll since they attended a Madrona grammar school together. "He was tough, but he was honest and above-board."

The end of Mr. Carroll's public-service career was touched by controversy, when he was indicted in connection with a Seattle police scandal. Officers were accused of taking bribes from tavern owners to tolerate illegal gambling and other activities, and Mr. Carroll's detractors charged him with failing to prosecute police corruption vigorously.

"There was a culture of tolerance in the city," Uhlman said yesterday. "It had been that way for many years. There was tacit agreement that officials would go after serious crime and leave the petty stuff alone."

Judge W.R. Cole dismissed the indictment, but it cost Mr. Carroll politically; he lost by a landslide to Christopher Bayley for the 1970 Republican nomination for prosecutor.

Mr. Carroll was cited by Christian, Jewish, Italian and black organizations for his community service.

Said Ken Rogstad, a longtime friend and political ally of Mr. Carroll, "One of the things Chuck was proud of was many of the attorneys who worked for him went on to become judges."

Mr. Carroll was part of the first class of inductees into the Husky Hall of Fame in 1979. He and his wife were members of the Queen City Yacht Club and spent much of his retirement on Puget Sound in their 50-foot boat, the Shearwater II. Alyce Carroll died in 1995.

Mr. Carroll cooked meals for himself until his final few months, and maintained a sharp sense of humor on McKeta's visits to the Carroll home. One recent Christmas, McKeta said, "I bought him a jump rope and told him to get in shape. He just laughed. He got a big kick out of that."

Besides his son, Mr. Carroll is survived by a daughter, Kathleen, of Portland, and four grandchildren. The family plans a private service.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or

Copyright 2003 The Seattle Times Company


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