A no-nonsense, unassuming, almost ego-less person, whose dedication to mathematics and later mathematical education was based entirely upon love of his discipline, Jack was motivated neither by material gain nor even a great desire for professional advancement. He sought private good for others rather than public honours for himself, and was intolerant of pomposity and verbosity. These commendable qualities, however, were suffused with an endearing impish humour that both charmed and disarmed.
Jack Carr grew up on the family’s Birds Hill Farm in East Heddon, Northumberland. Circumstances required the whole family, including Jack and his two older brothers, to share in the running of the farm. The family then moved to Ryton, County Durham, where illness caused Jack to miss a year’s schooling. He left school at 15 to become an apprentice GPO telephone engineer, and while attending night school taught himself advanced mathematics using books borrowed from the local library. The GPO recognised his talent, encouraged him to gain further qualifications, and sponsored his undergraduate mathematics degree at the University of Bath. He graduated in 1971 with the best first class honours degree the fledgling university had seen. He then proceeded to a Masters degree at the University of Oxford and subsequently to postgraduate research supervised by J. Bryce McLeod, then the leading UK authority on differential equations. His doctoral thesis concerned the study of a functional differential equation that is a mathematical idealisation and simplification of an industrial problem for wave motion in overhead supply lines of an electrified railway system. He was awarded a D.PhilDPhil. in 1974 for his thesis, which was also the basis for three papers written jointly with Janet Dyson.