Woodland Park lost one of its most colorful residents when Tom Carrick died July 17 at the age of 64. Known for his quirky sense of humor and, at times, irreverent comments about official and unofficial goings-on, Carrick gave his time tirelessly to make Woodland Park a better place.
Founding member and chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, former planning commissioner and shrewd businessman, Carrick was a vital part of the city’s march to progress, which includes development of Woodland Station. “He loved the DDA and everything going on in town,” said his wife, Ellen Carrick.
Ellen and Allie (Carrick) Secretan, 26, the couple’s only child, along with Ellen’s sister Elizabeth Fleming, were taking care of details the day after Carrick’s death. “We keep thinking he’s going to walk in and make some kind of sarcastic remark,” Ellen said. “He made me laugh for 41 years.”
Carrick had the right balance as a dad, Allie said. “He combined tough love with being a softie,” she said.
As the owners of Travel Trek, the Carricks fed their lust for travel with voracious research. “Allie had been to all seven continents before she was 13,” Ellen said.
While the Carricks sold the business, they continued to travel — and had just gotten back from a trip around the Southwest when Carrick got sick two weeks ago. “It was one of our favorite trips,” Ellen said.
Carrick died from pancreatic and kidney failure.
The Carricks moved to Woodland Park after he retired as a major with the U.S. Army Infantry, Ranger Airborne division. “He was very proud of that,” Ellen said.
Woodland Park’s city manager David Buttery, veteran of the U.S. Army, connected with Carrick on many levels. “Tom was a true servant. He served his country as a soldier and his community as a quiet but well-respected and listened-to volunteer,” Buttery said. “I will miss his wisdom, counsel and humor.”
Dale Schnitker, chairman of the DDA, highlighted Carrick’s generosity and concern for others. “I just loved the man,” he said. “He was an inspiration, a Woodland Park-er for sure.”
Carrick took a keen interest in Schnitker’s daughter Danielle. “When she got promoted to major, Tom put together a ‘major’ package for her that we took to her when she graduated,” he said.
But it’s mention of Allie that has Schnitker choked up. “He was just over-the-top about Allie and so excited about her successes,” he said.
Schnitker, who also has a sense of humor, said Carrick used a lot of big words. “That was a little tough on me,” he said.
Jon DeVaux, whose Alpine Firearms is in the Carricks’ former Travel Trek building, pegs Carrick as a steady force who was dedicated to doing the right thing. “He had a logical mind,” he said. “He always opened the DDA meetings with a joke.”
A voracious reader, Carrick shared newspaper clipping about guns, whether from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, DeVaux said.
Like the others, DeVaux remarked on the relationship between Tom and Ellen. “They did everything together,” he said.
Glenn and Lois Sill count the Carricks among their closest friends; both couples were part of the Friday Night Club. “We’re going to miss that friendship,” Lois said, adding that she worked for the Carricks at the travel agency for 10 years. “I enjoyed every day of it.”
While grieving over the loss, Glenn manages a laugh over one of Carrick’s many adventure tales. “He told me that while he was in parachute school all of his jumps were at night,” he said. “I asked him why at night and he said, ‘because my eyes were closed all the way down.’”
Brian Fleer, executive director of the Downtown and Economic Development, first met Carrick when he inquired at city hall about opening a travel agency in 1994. At the time, Fleer was the city’s planning director.
“Tom was an old-school guy with an intellectual edge. There are very few of those left anymore,” he said. “His presence cast a huge shadow over the town.”
Carrick also understood that the DDA would truly benefit the community, Fleer said.
Among the distinguished residents who have been named “Wagon Boss,” by the Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce, Carrick also served as the chamber’s president.
There are no public services planned for Carrick, but the family asks that donations be made in his name to The Alzheimer’s Association, 2315 Bott Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80904.