Cover photo for Dr. Charles Mccarthy's Obituary
Dr. Charles Mccarthy Profile Photo

Dr. Charles Mccarthy

d. October 14, 2022

Beloved husband, brother, uncle, friend, confidant, colleague, boss, and professor, Charles Raymond McCarthy, Ph.D., died peacefully in his sleep on October 14, 2022, at the age of 96 in Richmond, Virginia.

Dr. McCarthy was one of eight children born to Frederic Donough McCarthy and Florence Ruth (Milton) McCarthy of St Paul, MN. Charles received his primary education at St. Mark's Grade School and his secondary education, as a cadet, at St. Thomas Military Academy. In 1948 he received a B.A. degree from St. Thomas College in St. Paul.

After graduation, he served as a novice to become a professed member of the Paulist Fathers' Society at St. Paul's College, which is part of The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC. When severe tuberculosis interrupted his novitiate, he was treated for over 20 months isolated in a sanatorium near his childhood home. It proved to be a profound experience for him that informed his approach to life in the years that followed.

After recovering, he returned to St. Paul's College and completed his studies for the priesthood. Cardinal Spellman ordained him to the Catholic priesthood of the Congregation Sancti Pauli (CSP) on May 3, 1956.

Later that year, Father McCarthy, CSP, enrolled as a student of political science and modern philosophy at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. He was awarded a Master of Arts degree. During his years of study there, he fulfilled many pastoral duties at St. Peter's Catholic Church.

Next, Fr. McCarthy moved to the Catholic Information Center in Boston. There he gathered material for his doctoral thesis: The Political Philosophy of Orestes Brownson, while also fulfilling his pastoral duties. In 1961, the University of Toronto granted him the Ph.D. degree.

He again returned to St Paul’s College and for the next ten years he taught philosophy and political science there, as well as at The Catholic University of America.

In early 1971 he asked to be laicized which was granted therefore releasing him from his priestly duties. On July 23, 1971, he married the joy of his life, Estelle Rountree of Selma, AL, a leading figure in Christian education.

Dr. McCarthy embarked on a new career in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Division of Legislative Analysis (DLA). He was soon appointed Director of the DLA’s Legislative Development Branch.

In 1974, Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy required the Department of Health Education and Welfare (DHEW) to develop regulations for the protection of human subjects involved in research. Dr. McCarthy collaborated to help draft the first set of regulations governing the welfare of human research subjects. Based on these new regulations, Congress enacted the first law of its kind for the protection of human research subjects.

Dr. McCarthy was subsequently appointed Director of the NIH Office for Protection from Research Risks (OPRR). In that role he was charged with protecting the rights of human subjects and promoting the welfare of laboratory animals.

He worked diligently to develop the “Common Rule” which is a uniform set of regulations for protecting human research subjects in biomedical and behavioral research.

Virtually all human research conducted in universities throughout the US follow the regulations and policies issued by the OPRR during Dr. McCarthy’s tenure. Approximately 80 countries worldwide have chosen to follow them too. The worldwide impact of his expertise, broad influence, and positive contributions to protect countless research subjects represent one of his greatest career accomplishments.

In 1992, Dr. McCarthy retired from government service. Not long after, Charles and Estelle moved to Richmond, VA. There his involvement with research in ethics continued. Up until 2016 he worked part time contributing his vast store of knowledge to Virginia Commonwealth University’s newly created Office of Education and Compliance Oversight.

During the many years of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, he and his wife, Estelle, who herself worked tirelessly to promote peace, visited no fewer than eight times. They worked for peace and reconciliation between Catholics and Presbyterians there.

During his career, McCarthy chaired many committees, wrote countless reports, published a myriad number of papers, delivered hundreds of lectures which efforts earned him many honors. These accolades include Distinguished Service Awards bestowed by two Secretaries of Health and Human Services, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the nonprofit Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research where he served for years on its Board of Directors.

Charlie enjoyed watching sports. He enthusiastically followed the Washington Capitals ice hockey club and held season tickets for their games. He also was a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings football team.

Charlie possessed a sense of calm, an even temperament, a marvelous sense of humor, and an infectious laugh. To whomever he met, he exuded a warm, gentle, and endearing nature. He cultivated many close and enduring friendships. Through his friendly, approachable nature, he enamored himself with his colleagues, and students, in addition to many casual acquaintances.

At family gatherings, when offered to refill his glass or a helping of dessert, Charlie would invariably smile, demurely cock his head and sheepishly, albeit politely say, “Well… I wouldn’t say, ‘No’”, speaking with a twinkle in his eye.

The McCarthys spent their final years in residence at Westminster Canterbury, a life care facility in Richmond where he was a favorite of the staff who fondly nicknamed him. “Doc”. After 39 years of marriage, his beloved wife, Estelle Rountree McCarthy, preceded him in death on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010.

He is survived by one sibling, Sister Mary Paula McCarthy, a member of the Sisters of the Visitation, located in North Minneapolis, MN. Uncle Charlie loved his extended family and entertained them as children with his corny magic tricks. He delighted in mischievously, privately telling each individual niece and nephew, in secret, that they were his favorite. He thus endeared himself to each and every one of them forevermore. As everyone’s favorite, Uncle Charlie is sorely missed.

Charles R. McCarthy, Ph.D. truly made the world a better place in all that he did professionally and personally. He led an exemplary life of purpose and service. He was an exceptionally talented, brilliant, rare, yet humble human being who touched the hearts of all who knew him. In life he always described himself as a Lucky Duck.

Memorial services will take place on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 909 Rennie Road, Richmond, VA 23227. Visitation starts at 10 AM followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 AM. The Mass will be live streamed at No Facebook account is needed for access. Interment will take place alongside the grave of his wife, Estelle, at Valley Creek Church in Valley Grande, AL with Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home of Selma directing on Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. with Father Steve Hornat officiating.

RSVP to Charlie’s nephew, Dan McCarthy at In lieu of flowers please offer your prayers. Any memorial contributions may be sent to St Paul’s Catholic Church in Charlie’s honor.

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