Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr has walked the sidelines at Michigan Stadium for 13 seasons. He’s also been a fixture around Ann Arbor. Even after his retirement announcement on Monday, Carr will stay in Ann Arbor as an associate athletic director.
Still Carr hasn’t been as visible around campus as his mentor, former head coach Bo Schembechler, who was often an oversized presence around campus.
As the sister of the owner of Angelo’s restaurant owner Steve Vangelatos, Vickie Brooks has seen Carr come into the Catherine Street dining establishment quite often. Brooks said the restaurant sometimes hosts coaches’ meetings or coaches will bring recruits to the restaurant. Brooks called Carr an understated person with an enormous presence. When he came into the restaurant, she would make sure he had his space but would always be excited.
“It was always the highlight of the day,” she said. “It was like a movie star walked in.”
His order, though, is decidedly un-movie star.
He usually orders oatmeal, Brooks said and he usually brings his own black coffee to accompany it.
Beyond his stature of coach, Brooks said he has a commanding – albeit subdued – presence, especially when he is with the other coaches.
“When Lloyd came in, they made room for him,” she said. “He was the big guy.”
Yet Carr was never quite the looming figure that Schembechler was around town.
But Carr still has his hangouts.
Chuck Ghawi, owner of Maison Edwards tobacco shop in Nickels Arcade, said Carr, a regular cigar customer, is a down-to-earth, friendly guy.
Ghawi said Carr usually comes and goes alone, but he sometimes sits down, smokes his cigar and chats with whoever stops by the store. When Carr is sitting down with the strangers, Ghawi said he is “jovial” and generally excited to be with everyone else. Ghawi said Carr’s way of treating people leaves a strong impression.
“I just feel genuinely lucky that I got to meet him,” Ghawi said.
Much of Carr’s community work has been for the University Health System.
His Carr’s Wash, in which football players wash cars to raise money for the hospital’s construction projects, have raised more than $400,000 since its 2004 inception, according to University Hospital spokeswoman Krista Hopson.
Carr also runs the Women’s Football Academy, a day-long clinic run by Carr and his coaches that teaches women the basics of football. The proceeds benefit the University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
But few know that Carr’s commitment to the hospital dates back to the late 1960s, when Carr worked during summers on the construction crew that built Mott, said Patricia Warner, associate hospital director and administrator for Mott.
Warner said that Carr often quietly comes and visits children he knows when he finds out they were in the hospital.
“He does it very quietly,” she said. “If he knows a child that’s admitted, he makes personal visits. I can’t tell you how often because he doesn’t publicize it.”