Let the memory of Cary be with us forever
  • 76 years old
  • Born on December 10, 1936 in Hendersonville, North Carolina, United States.
  • Passed away on October 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.

“I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one 
I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done. 
I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, 
of happy times, and laughing times, and bright and sunny days. 
I'd like to be remembered as one that passed this way 
spreading joy, cheer and sunshine each and everyday. 
I'd like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun, 
and reflect upon happy memories I leave, 
when life for me is done.” 

Cary Alfred Booker never met a stranger and had an incredible ability to engage, encourage and even entertain others. His smile, easy going manner and outgoing spirit made him a wonderful exemplar of the ideal of a southern gentleman. 

Born in Hendersonville, North Carolina to Jessie Lucille Booker he was an early Christmas gift on December the 10, 1936. The people of Hendersonville's Brooklyn community became his village and a refuge for a happy, outgoing, well mannered youngster with an endearing bit of mischievousness. 

A good student and athlete, his potential shown through and was blessed to have many people in the community supporting his dream of 
a college education and a career in business. 

James and Eva Pilgrim were one such couple with two siblings of their own, James Jr. called Sonny and Sondra. This loving family saw a way to help two other worthy young men, Cary and Limual Jones, to achieve their life goals and supported them by providing work and a good home during their high school years. The Pilgrims were the owners of Pilgrim's Funeral Home and Mrs. Eva Pilgrim was an elementary school teacher. They became mentors, advocates and role models for all of their children instilling a sense of community responsibility and love of others. Thus Cary had an extended family with abundant nurturing love, foundational friendship and strong support that lasted throughout his life.

With big dreams and hard work, money saved and support from the Pilgrims and the community, Cary attended North Carolina Central College in Durham, North Carolina. He graduated in 1962 with a BS degree in Business. 

During his college years, Cary took time away from school to serve honorably in the United States Army. In his tenure in the armed services he had some interesting assignments; he was a Chaplain’s Assistant and even taught the American way of Life at an all girls school in Seoul Korea. 

After graduation Cary was off to Washington DC. It was the early 1960's and new doors were opening for Blacks in private industry. He was the first black buyer at Woodward and Lothrop's Department Store. The first black salesman for Sinclair Oil Company. Cary then landed a position as Marketing Representative with IBM, another first. Cary's marketing skills lead to many awards, promotions in marketing management and distinctions. For example, he was the first black to make the coveted Golden Circle as a Director for outstanding marketing achievements and made all of his 100% Clubs and helped others achieve as well. But perhaps Cary was best known amongst many of his peers at IBM for how he helped to mentor and support others in their career. He believed in not just blazing a trail, but what makes the road truly worth while is how many people you can help along the way. 

Cary's work as a chaplain's assistant in the military must have paid off, because in Washington DC his prayers were answered and he met his wife and best friend. The two married on July 11, 1964 in Los Angeles California. To that union was born Cary II and Cory. Cary was a devoted family man with enough wit and wisdom to keep life fun and exciting. Even as Cary's career continued to flourish, Cary and Carolyn lived their lives putting God first, family second and career third. And of course, there were always friends around to share the fun, love and joy as anyone who knew them in Washington DC, Harrington Park, New Jersey or Atlanta, GA could attest. 

During Cary's retirement years a special son came back into his life, John Moros-Taylor and his wife, Monti and their children Alexa, Omar and Elena. They brought much joy to Cary and were embraced by Carolyn, Cary II and Cory as “Big Brother”. It also added a new title for Cary – Grand Dad. 

As Cary II began a journey to expand educational opportunities for hundreds of children in Memphis as the leader of an innovative school, He and wife Lucille added to the family in 2007 by introducing a forth grand to the Grand Dad mix when they introduced Zelah Kelsi. She brought out the child again in her Grand Dad as they explored parks and playgrounds in Atlanta under Zelah's direct orders of what they were doing. 

Children have a way of taking you on journey's you never knew you would take and Cory moved us all into the political arena. As a family we took this walk with him from City Council to Mayor of Newark, NJ to the United States Senate. All the family stood with Cory from the beginning; Cary and Lucille moved to Newark to support his brother, John also worked on his campaign. However Cary Sr. got to know as many people as his son in Newark and had a grand time doing so. Cary's popularity in Newark was legend. The seniors loved him - especially the ladies who cooked him his favorite dishes, danced with him at parties and loved even his most corny jokes. 

These were truly fun times for the family, yet, like throughout his life, service was still a driving passion for Cary. In his latter years, Cary brought his resources to the table to help solve issues in public health, education, job training and safety. Through contacts made with IBM Retiree Networks, his work with Stand For Children, The North Carolina Central University Foundation Board and The Cancer Institute at Baylor University he focused on issues of mentoring and working with seniors. As a child who rose thanks to the loving support of others, Cary never missed an opportunity to pay it forward by doing whatever he could, whenever he could, to help someone else rise and fulfill their dreams. 

At Atlanta Unity Center Cary found further outlet for service as well as spiritual growth. He served on the Stewardship Committee and joined the theater group. The theater group gave this incredible outgoing man the opportunity to further blossom as a dancing thespian. This special spiritual place was where Cary continued to flourish in his final years, loving doing what he always loved doing - learning, serving, socializing and growing closer to God through fellowship and prayer. 

For Cary, a life well lived was where you kept close to God, loved your family, worked hard in your profession, served others in ways small and large, and always, always, remembered to enjoy the journey and celebrate life's blessings. We will miss Cary but death ends a life but not a love. His warmth, enthusiasm for life, unyielding kindness and loving nonjudgmental spirit will never cease. He is with God and he lives in our hearts forever.

Posted by JoAnn Adams on 10th December 2017
Memories of Cary continue to bring a smile to those left behind. Cary had a caring heart, a one of a kind style, and a huge capacity to make others laugh in the most trying and difficult circumstances. I will always remember Cary's protrayal of the old toothless person, during "Joke Night" at Thanksgivingfest. I believe him to be in his forever, heaven home-still trying to influence good works here on earth. Namaste my friend. Be abundantly blessed.
Posted by James Pilgrim on 10th December 2015
Posted by Vicki Schoell on 1st November 2015
I have just learned that Cary Booker has passed. He was my marketing manager back in the 70's at IBM. He had a very profound influence on me as a manager and mentor. I have never forgotten him. May he rest in peace.
Posted by Barbara Carter on 12th October 2015
As November approaches, I think of the good times we all had at Thanksgiving. It will never be the same now that Cary has left us, but the memories will last forever.
Posted by Ethel Davis on 3rd October 2015
Rest In Peace, Mr. Booker
Posted by Pamela Herbert on 29th January 2015
The memory I enjoy the most of my Uncle Cary was during my college years when he and Aunt Carolyn opened their home to me and my sisters while we were working at IBM for the summer. He was lying on the couch with his wife cradled in his arms beside him, all the kids were sitting on the floor and everyone was relaxed. We were listening to an LP record of Richard Pryor and all of us were laughing are heads off. I was quietly moved at the love he naturally demonstrated for his wife and family and how easily they worked together as a family. Although he lived on the other side of the country, I know he took a genuine interest in me and my life. I have many other moments similar to this but the consistent theme in all of them was a compassionate and generous man who had the ability to connect and inspire those around him. I am a better person for knowing him and I regret that my children, my son’s especially, didn’t have more time to know him.
Posted by James Pilgrim on 22nd December 2014
I have only VERY FOND memories of Cary. He was a REAL brother to me and I never thought of him as anything else. Cary, Lemuel and I were inseperable.Whenever I talk about the Pilgrim family I always say that I have two brothers and one sister. I really miss him so much and think about him all the time and the great times we had together. Sonny
Posted by Patricia Jones on 21st December 2014
Cary was the greatest brother-in-law one could have. Someone once said "A man is no better than that he leaves behind". Cary left behind so many good memories, good deeds, hilarious good times, wisdom (sometimes you wondered about) but in the end he was right on target.
Posted by Barbara Carter on 12th October 2014
I remember Cary most during Thanksgiving, in the many years we hosted the Thanksgiving gatherings at Hilton Head. Cary kept the "fest" in Thanksgivingfest by cheering us up every time we had a disagreement or were under pressure. His jokes and kidding around always made us laugh and kept our spirits high until we forgot about all the stress!
Posted by JoAnn Adams on 10th October 2014
Carolyn and the Boys, I have thought of Cary so many times in the last year. It's always brought fond memories of days before Carolyn & Cary were married, when the boys were toddlers and of course there was joke night at Thanksgivingfest. Once again I point to "Afterglow" because it expresses my feelings so well. Be abundantly blessed.
Posted by JoAnn Adams on 25th December 2013
Cary, Your wishes in "AfterGlow" have been accomplished. I'm sorry that you're not among us, but even as I write this, I'm aware that I'm smiling. It's a warm, caring centered "hi-five-you did it" smile. We all have to cross the bar, but you did it with a style that is unique and caring. Be abundantly blessed in your transitioned form. Thanks for letting us share your world.
Posted by Jocel Thornhill on 15th December 2013
Such a wonderful tribute. I lost my father several years ago and know that the foundation upon which Mr Booker stood and his legacy will guide your family (often in whispers) for generations.

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