Nora Carr, a central leader of Guilford County Schools for over a decade, passed away on Thursday, June 30.

Carr, the former chief of staff of Guilford County Schools, left the school system last year but that didn’t diminish the shockwave of profound sadness that spread quickly through the system on Thursday as the news hit school employees that Carr – the woman who was such a well-known driver of the course of education in the county for so long – was suddenly gone.

In August of last year, she went to work for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which one acquaintance called her “dream job.”

One source very familiar with the situation said that Carr had suffered a heart attack, however, an email sent out to school staff on Thursday didn’t specify the nature of the medical issue that took her life.

Carr served Guilford County Schools for over 13 years as chief of staff and, in that capacity, she oversaw everything from strategic planning to operations, to communicating with Guilford County commissioners about the school system’s budget needs.

She was a powerful voice for the schools each year at budget time and a very strong advocate for education in the county.

Those who knew her and worked with her over the years had many glowing comments in the wake of her death.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston worked closely with Carr on many county and school issues over the years and he said Thursday night that the community had lost one of its best.

“She was a great lady and a trailblazer in the schools,” Alston said. “She was devoted to education and made great contributions.  Many students and others in education are much better off because of her.”

Carr earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. Louis University and then a master’s in communications from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  She later earned her Doctor of Education degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Carr served as the chief communications officer for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools before coming to work for Guilford County Schools.

When Carr left the school system last year, Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras said that Carr would be “an invaluable asset” to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and Contreras added how grateful she was that the school system and its students had the benefit of Carr’s contributions for so long.

“We will miss her and are grateful for the 13 years she spent in service to the students and staff of Guilford County Schools,” Contreras said at that time.

Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, who was a former county commissioner, said he’d had occasion many times over the years to work on projects with Carr.

“She was a wealth of information about the school system – and people really liked her,” Thigpen said.

Carr was also very helpful to the Rhino Times over the years when it came to providing fast and reliable information about school affairs.

She will be greatly missed by many, many people.