In Memoriam

Donald Carswell ’50, Community Leader

Donald Carswell ’50, NBC executive and leader of numerous community organizations in his native Brooklyn, died on March 25 of leukemia. He was 75.

Carswell received both his bachelor’s and business degrees from Harvard.

At Harvard, Carswell was an editor of the Crimson and was most well-known for his op-ed, “Beating the System,” that detailed how to do well on Harvard exams without really studying. The Crimson has run this op-ed every reading period since its debut on June 12, 1950. The op-ed won Carswell the Dana Reed Prize in 1951 for excellence in undergraduate writing and provoked a seething “Grader’s Reply” in 1962.

Carswell later went on to spend 36 years at NBC Television, working his way up from financial trainee in 1956 to senior vice president for finance in 1979. Carswell retained this post until 1990 when he assumed the title of Chief Financial Officer. He retired from NBC in 1992.

During his time at NBC, Carswell oversaw the budgets of numerous popular television shows, including “Cheers,” “The Cosby Show,” and “Seinfeld.”


Carswell was also a leading member of the Brooklyn community. He served on the board of Caledonian Hospital from 1960 until 1982 when it merged with the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Carswell then continued his board membership and joined the board of the Brooklyn Hospital Foundation.

Carswell was also a Trustee of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which honored the contributions he made during his ten-year tenure at a ceremony on April 3.

In addition, Carswell assisted in the establishment of Brooklyn Community Access Television, which aired the public awareness program “HealthWatch” which he helped create and write.

Furthermore, Carswell served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, NY, his alma mater. Under his leadership, Poly underwent unprecedented growth, according to Vincent J. Vigorita, who will succeed Carswell as Chairman of the Board.

“He was a remarkable person because he provided all this community service while never really seeking any personal pretension or accolades,” Vigorita said. “Anyone that knew him knew he was a man of great humor.”

Carswell is survived by his wife, Lois ’53; a daughter, Anne Carswell Tang; two sons, Alexander and Robert Ian; a brother, Robert; and four grandchildren.


Robert White Creeley, Poet, Editor

Robert White Creeley, a respected and innovative poet known for his brevity and unique use of phrasing, died on March 30 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis at a hospital in Odessa, Texas. He was 78.

Creeley was admitted to Harvard University in 1943 but left to become an ambulance driver in India for the American Field Service during World War II. Though he dropped out shortly before his 1947 graduation, he taught poetry at Harvard during the summer of 1972. He had also been invited to speak at this year’s Harvard Phi Beta Kappa ceremony.