Wm. Polk Carey '48 will long be regarded at Gilman School as a remarkable man who never forgot what was important to him and built one of the nation's leading companies without ever abandoning a core set of personal values. With his transformational $10 million gift through the W. P. Carey Foundation toward the $35 million, 17-month renovation of campus centerpiece Carey Hall, Mr. Carey — a longtime Gilman trustee and the grandson of School founder Anne Galbraith Carey — earned the distinction of having made the largest single private gift in Gilman's history, which still stands today. In total, during their lifetimes, Mr. Carey and his brother gifted more than $15 million to Gilman.
"I have so much confidence in the faculty and staff at Gilman to do the best they can with the resources I have provided," said Mr. Carey at the time of his gift. "Gilman is the best school of its kind."
Mr. Carey was born in Baltimore in 1930, the son of Francis J. Carey, a graduate of the Class of 1906, and Mrs. Augustus Orbach. Mr. Carey attended Gilman School for four years but left at the end of his fourth form year to attend Pomfret School, a boarding school in Connecticut. He continued his education at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
After Princeton and Wharton, he settled in New York, where he would ultimately establish W. P. Carey Inc. (formerly W. P. Carey & Co., Inc.) in 1973. Although Carey's path led him physically away from his native Baltimore, he always remained deeply connected to Gilman. Over the years, Mr. Carey, a member of the Gilman Board of Trustees from 1981 until his death, was extremely generous to Gilman.
"Bill Carey was always sensitive to the present and future needs of Gilman," says Charles C. Fenwick, Jr. '66, past Board of Trustees president and chairman of the First Things First campaign. "While generous, he always knew what he wanted and made sure that others knew what he wanted and how he felt. Baltimore, and Gilman in particular, are vastly better places because of Bill Carey's thoughts and efforts."
His affection for and support of Gilman grew partly from the imprint of his grandmother, Anne Galbraith Carey. Especially close to his grandparents, Mr. Carey recalled in a 2003 interview that his grandmother maintained a very strong interest in Gilman during the days when it wasn't customary for women to serve on boards of trustees. Mrs. Carey often corresponded with and received visits from E. Boyd Morrow, headmaster from 1926-1943, who would come to ask her advice on various matters. Mr. Carey's grandfather, Francis K. Carey, served on the Board of Trustees, and Carey remembered that he presented diplomas during graduation exercises.
"My grandmother really was a strong-willed personality," Mr. Carey said. "But in a nice, gentle way. It's nice that the School still recognizes her role in its founding."
"While it is a fact that Gilman would not exist without Bill's grandmother's vision, I would argue that Gilman would not be on its continued path of excellence without the exceptional support of Bill Carey," says Mark Fetting '72, former President of the Board of Trustees.
Mr. Carey, who considered his Gilman classmates some of the best men he knew, credited his own Gilman preparation for providing him with a foundation that served him well.