Ron L. Carroll, 59; Boy Scout Official, Fundraiser

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 4, 2005

Ron L. Carroll, 59, a longtime executive with the Boy Scouts of America and an accomplished not-for-profit fundraiser, died of brain cancer Feb. 28 at his home in Wilmington, N.C.

Mr. Carroll was Scout executive, or chief executive, for the Bethesda-based National Capital Area Council, the nation's fourth largest, from 1990 until his illness forced early retirement last fall. Before retiring to Wilmington, he lived in North Potomac.

Not long after assuming his duties in the Washington area, he found himself at the center of the nationwide controversy over whether gay people could be Scout leaders or members.

"We do not feel [homosexuals] are acceptable role models for young boys as they develop into manhood," he told The Washington Post in 1992. "We are chartered by the national organization, and we have to follow their bylaws."

In June 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the organization's national policy ban on "avowed homosexuals" after the group contended it was a private association entitled to restrict its membership.

Later that year, he told The Post that Boy Scouts of America was working hard to meet major societal changes. "Children today have more options, more undesirable options," he said. "It's tougher today than it ever was, and I've been working with Boy Scouts for 30 years. There are more kids in single-parent families. We're a more transient society; there are more moves and fewer roots."

Known throughout his career for his fundraising prowess, Mr. Carroll helped negotiate a deal in 1997 to buy 486 acres in the Haymarket area of Prince William County from the Walt Disney Co. for $1.5 million for a training ground for Scout leaders and a campground for the council's 70,000 Scouts. Disney had acquired the land to be part of the highway exchange for Disney's America theme park, which was scuttled in 1994 after protests from preservationists and environmentalists.

The National Capital Area Council will open its $16 million Camp William B. Snyder on the property in May 2006.

Mr. Carroll was born in Decatur, Ala., and grew up in Ashland, Miss., where as a 9-year-old Cub Scout he raised money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis. He became an Eagle Scout in 1961 and received a bachelor's degree in marketing from Mississippi State University in 1967.

He began his professional career with the Boy Scouts in 1969 in Laurel, Miss., as district executive with the Pine Burr Area Council. He moved to Wilmington in 1979 to become Scout executive for the Cape Fear Area Council, where he increased annual giving by 850 percent and doubled membership. He became Scout executive for the Central Florida Council in Orlando in 1985.

In 1997, he received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, given by the Boy Scouts of America, and in 1998, the NonProfit Times recognized Mr. Carroll as one of the 50 most influential people in the nation's not-for-profit sector.

He served on the Make-A-Difference Foundation board and was national chairman of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 1997-98. He led groups of not-for-profit leaders to Russia in 1999, South Africa in 2001 and Cuba in 2003. At his retirement party last fall, he raised more than $100,000 for Carroll's Cottage at Camp William B. Snyder.

His marriage to Barbara Elizabeth Lakey ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Pamela Edwards Carroll of Wilmington; two children from the first marriage, Elizabeth Dealana Cheek of Graham, N.C., and Adrian Thomas Carroll of Wilmington; two stepsons, Edward Dean Jeffreys of Gaithersburg and James I. Jeffreys III of Charlotte; his mother, Betty Ruth Carroll of Ashland; two brothers; and three grandchildren.

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