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Walter Carroll, Jr.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-October, Walter Carroll, Jr. strolls into the Junior League of New Orleans headquarters and walks to the shelves in the rear of the meeting room, identifying the women in the vintage photographs by memory. At 93-years-old, Walter is impeccably dressed – blue blazer with gold buttons shining, pinstriped shirt and perfectly straight navy and white dotted tie, a jauntily folded white linen handkerchief peeking from his top jacket pocket – representative of an era where men dressed impressively for every outing. Walter’s speech is reminiscent of a bygone era too; slow and deliberate with a soft Louisiana accent, he tells stories of The League with wit and poise. His legacy to the Junior League is a gift in more ways than one.

In his own words, Walter has “a long and warm relationship with the Junior League.” The son of a former Junior League president from the 1930’s, he remembers visits to The League rooms at the famous St. Charles hotel and The League’s nearby Coffee Shop. He recalls trips to New York with stays in The League rooms at the Waldorf, and evenings at League parties with the women in their finest gowns and the men in their formal dinner clothes. Walter is one of those rare finds, better than an archive: his memories are anecdotal – he remembers how those same fine gowns and tuxedos would eventually be donated to the thrift store (located on Bourbon Street at that time). The gowns would be purchased by drag queens in the French Quarter and the tuxes sometimes bought by him and his high-school friends. “In fact, I remember, Herbert (Hoss) Williams even got a top hat there one day,” Walter recalled.

Walter Carroll, Jr.

Photo provided by Walter Carroll, Jr.

Ann and Walter Carroll, Jr. Circa 1970.

However, Walter’s ties to the Junior League go further than being a League son. His late wife, Ann Burdette Carroll, was a JLNO president in 1960, later serving as the Regional Director of Region VI and Treasurer of the Association of Junior Leagues of America.
“It meant a lot to me seeing her follow in Mother’s footsteps,” said Walter.

During Ann’s tenure as the President of the then-titled New Orleans Junior League, the thrift store moved from its French Quarter locale to its current location on Freret Street. Walter nailed shut the windows at the new site himself. “We had to make the place a little more secure,” he remembers. Ann was also involved in the early plans to move The League headquarters from the St. Charles Hotel to its current location on Carondelet, and the Ann Carroll Suite on the second floor of The League headquarters is named in her honor, serving as a daily reminder of her contributions to JLNO.

“When Ann died at the young age of 58, I wanted to do something for The League,” says Walter. “At that time there was a good bit of fixing up to do at the new headquarters, and they needed more space for meetings so it was decided I could do some good by fixing up what was known as meeting room C, and so I did.”

Ann’s portrait and a plaque detailing her work hang on display in the completed room as an inspiration to all members of her dedication.
Walter’s own dedication to The League and its mission continues to this day. In August he made a generous donation to The League to update the Ann Carroll Suite and maximize its utility among League members, while continuing to honor Ann and her contributions to JLNO. “Over the years the needs of the room have changed, it needs to be equipped with modern ways of communication, and I’m now of an age that I’m not going to be around for the next refurbishment, so I thought I best get on with this last one.”

In the hopes of inspiring further support of The League, Walter has offered an invitation to other families and friends of members: he will match, up to a certain amount, any donations made in memory of League members, past or present.

“I feel very close to the Junior League,” says Walter. “I want to do everything I can to encourage it, and I’m proud of having had my relationship with it. The Junior League well deserves all the encouragement it can muster.”

Interested in accepting Mr. Carroll’s offer to match your donation? Please contact Kathleen Ramsey at kathleen@jlno.org.


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