Since his death June 14 in Lexington, John S, Carroll has been hailed as a hero of journalism and one of the best newspaper editors of our time.
We can add only that of the many places his career took him, none gained more from his work than Kentucky.
Carroll, 73, who will be memorialized at 11 a.m. Monday at First Presbyterian Church, led the merger of newsrooms that in 1983 created the Herald-Leader.
He quickly saw the state's linchpin challenge was education. The timing was right. Robert Sexton, another visionary who died too soon, was organizing a reform movement, while corporate leaders were ready to pay higher taxes for better schools.
In late 1989, on the eve of a legislative session that would replace a school system thrown out by the Supreme Court, Carroll midwifed "Cheating Our Children." Ten reporters, the photo staff and an artist worked on the series. Carroll massaged every paragraph and headline.
Readers responded with an outpouring of outrage at the politics and corruption that were robbing youngsters of a decent education.
The Kentucky Education Reform Act would not have happened without wide support, including other newspapers. The radical sweep of the changes owes much to Carroll's signature investigative storytelling.
Twenty-five years on, the bans on nepotism and patronage have unchained schools from raw politics. The property tax system has been cleaned up. Kentuckians graduate from high school at the national rate or better.
Apart from the crusading journalism, the Herald-Leader under Carroll became a lesson in possibilities, daily proof that a Kentucky institution could remake itself and excel.
If Carroll had a political ideology, it was secret to those who worked for him. What shone was his powerful sense of right and wrong, his compassion and his conviction that a well-informed citizenry will do the right thing.