RYE, N.Y. — James Paul Carey, whose grandfather pioneered the limousine for-hire business and founded the transportation empire J.P. Carey Company, died last week at his home in Rye, N.Y.
He suffered a stroke two weeks ago and did not recover, said his daughter Helen McConnell of Rye.
Carey, 84, who was known as Paul, counted several celebrities as clients and friends, President Kennedy and Ethel Merman among them. He once served as Babe Ruth's driver, 15 years after the New York Yankee legend had retired. The pair golfed together, ate lunch and bantered about Ruth's baseball career.
"The Babe was not in great health, so (Carey's) father asked him if he would look after the Babe," said Edward Gerrity, a longtime friend. "So he took it on himself to be the personal driver, rather than hand it off to one of his employees. He was fascinated to be surrounded by the great Babe Ruth."
Carey also worked for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover when Hoover visited New York City, and occasionally accompanied him to meetings with the gossip columnist Walter Winchell.
Carey's grandfather bought a fleet of cars and founded the country's first limousine company in the early 1920s. Business executives, actors, and politicians soon became clients.
The company had three branches: Carey Cadillacs, Carey Transportation Company and Carey Drive Yourself. Carey Transportation was sold to Greyhound in 1961, Carey Drive Yourself eventually became Hertz, and Carey Cadillacs was sold in 1986, the year it became Carey Limousine.
Carey was chairman of Carey Limousine when it was sold and continued to serve as a consultant for several years afterward.
As a member of the Westchester Country Club in Harrison for more than 60 years, Carey was also active in the local golf scene. He was president of the Westchester Golf Association from 1992-93 and served on the board for both the WGA and the WGA Caddie Scholarship fund for more than two decades.
Up until last year, when he was slowed by illness, he regularly served as an official at local tournaments.
"He was just a longtime, dedicated, always friendly person," said Bob Thomas, the executive director of the WGA. "He was one of those guys who may not have had terrific headlines attached to his name, but he was a constant, good, reliable person that everybody loved."
Carey was born in Brooklyn and served in the Navy during World War II. He moved to Rye in 1954, two years after marrying Mary Francis Maguire.
He is survived by her and five daughters, McConnell; Kathryn Strom of New York City; Anne Keenan of Palatine, Ill.; Virginia McBride of Madison, N.J., and Barbara Vermylen of Ridgewood, N.J.
SOURCE: The Journal News — Lower Hudson Online