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05 September, 2014

Bill Carey was a fluent Russian speaker, translator, college lecturer and Anglican Lay Reader. He helped many to understand and better appreciate the greatness of Russian culture. At the end of the 'Cold War', during that unprecedented period of openness and exchange of information and ideas, new insights came from both sides of what had been an 'iron curtain.' In both Russia and the IofC centre at Caux, Switzerland, Bill and his wife Rosemary made many friends and were much loved and trusted.

Bill and Rosemary Carey (Photo: David Hassell)
Bill and Rosemary Carey (Photo: David Hassell)
Not only was Bill a fluent Russian speaker, but during his three years at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, he had worked with colleagues on a project to produce a definitive version in English of the complete works of the nineteenth-century poet Pushkin - a formidable task! Bill was distinguished by having his translations of some of the poems chosen as the best versions. For 15 years he lectured in Russian studies at Ealing Technical College in London.

In 1989 Europe was taken by surprise. The period immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the 'Cold War', the progressive lifting of the Iron Curtain and the re-emergence of independent states in  Eastern Europe could also be thought of as the 'Russian Spring', such was the thirst in Russia itself in post-Soviet years for an interchange of information and ideas with Western countries and the outside world in general.

The response from our side included initiatives by a number of individuals and groups dealing with different domains in different areas of that vast country. New hopes arose: Was faith real? Could freedom work? Or an economy that wasn't centrally controlled? Could injustices be forgiven,  national antagonisms be overcome? Healing found for past suffering? Russians from many walks of life began to travel to Caux, the Initiatives of Change international conference centre in Switzerland - business people, educationalists, politicans,  musicians, actors, journalists (like Andrei Mironov, who died earlier this year), and writers (this was the time Solzhenitsyn had a film made about his Nobel Prize statement 'One word of Truth') .

Bill, with the whole-hearted support of his wife Rosemary, played a significant role in all this, travelling repeatedly to encourage Russians who had responded in Moscow and elsewhere and also looking after them at Caux. With great sensitivity they built friendships and inspired trust. Others of us learnt from his understanding of the Russian background.

Very unassuming in manner, Bill also gave loyal service to his church of St Mary's, Witney, where he was a Lay Reader. He will be missed by grateful friends in many places and certainly at both ends of our continent!

David Hassell

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