Gayton, Carver Clark (b. 1938)

  • By Carver Gayton and Staff
  • Posted 5/28/2004
  • Essay 4305
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Carver Clark Gayton is a leader in education reform and workforce training. He graduated from Garfield High School and the University of Washington where he starred in football and track and was a student leader. All of his degrees (B.A., M.P.A. and Ph.D.) are from the UW. Other than four years as a Special Agent for the F.B.I. (the first appointment of an African American by the U.S. Department of Justice in the state of Washington) and a short stint as a Special Security Representative for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in California, Gayton’s career for more than 35 years has focused on education and training. He has published numerous articles and presented many papers, and has been a keynote speaker throughout the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and Canada. After working as an executive in education and training programs for the Corporate Offices of The Boeing Company for 18 years, in 1997 Gayton was appointed by Washington Governor Gary Locke to serve on his Executive Cabinet as Commissioner of the Employment Department, where he led the most far reaching positive changes in the agency’s 65 year history. Gayton left the Governor’s office in 2001, and is now a lecturer at the Dan Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington and a consultant in the fields of education and workforce development. His many awards include "University of Washington Alumni Legend” by the Sabey Corporation and KIRO News Radio, in cooperation with the University of Washington, in 1987.

Proud Heritage

Carver is the sixth child of John Jacob Gayton (1899-1969) and Virginia Clark Gayton (1902-1993). His father was the first child of Seattle pioneers John T. Gayton (1866-1954) and Magnolia S. Gayton (d. 1954). John T. Gayton came to Seattle from Yazoo County Mississippi in 1888. He became an involved and respected member of the Seattle community and retired as U.S. District Court Librarian in 1953 after a stellar 20-year career.

Carver’s mother, Virginia Clark Gayton, was the grand daughter of the famous black abolitionist Lewis Clarke (1815-1897), whose experiences as a slave were reflected in the publication Narratives of the Sufferings of Lewis and Milton [Lewis’s brother] Clarke: Sons of a Soldier of the Revolution. The book was first published in 1845, the same year as Fredrick Douglass’s narrative. Clarke was interviewed repeatedly by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her own home, with his descriptions of slave atrocities he suffered and witnessed providing a foundation for Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Virginia Clark Gayton was a leader in her own right and was recognized nationally in 1984 by the Schlesinger Library of Radcliffe College, as one of 72 “Black Women of Courage” for her outstanding professional and voluntary activities.

Carver’s parents raised eight children and by example, modeled for them a strong work ethic, the importance of education and commitment to community service. Both parents worked for the U. S. Post Office for many years, for modest incomes; nevertheless, good food, music, and laughter were the staples of this very nurturing household.

The Early Years

Carver was born and raised in the Madrona District of Seattle. By the time he was five years old the previously all-white neighborhood was becoming integrated with additional African American families. His close knit group of friends from Madrona Grade School until his first year at Meany Junior High School included himself, another African American and three whites. The five boys knew almost every inch of every park and vacant lot within a radius of two miles of 32nd and East Union Street. After School and on vacations they walked to every destination, since few had bikes, and engaged in a wide variety of activities from fishing in Lake Washington at Leschi Beach and playing ball at Madrona Park, to eating brown bag lunches on warm summer days in the University of Washington Arboretum.

As grade school kids they played cops and robbers and mumbly peg but as they approached adolescence they became more contemplative and talked about “serious” issues such as girls or the likelihood of an afterlife. Most of the boys had paper routes and ended up spending their earnings at the neighborhood soda fountain and drug store on the corner of 34th and Union Street. It was a wonderful and innocent time in Carver’s life, and he remembers those years as idyllic.

Carver went to Garfield High School where he excelled as a leader and athlete. He starred as a 150-pound fullback on back-to-back metropolitan championship football teams. His senior year he was named to the All-City team as a running back and was named Captain by his team mates. He was also named to the All- State team and played in the East-West All Star game in Spokane during the summer of 1956. Carver was especially proud when his former football coach Swede Lindquist, who retired in 1957 after 27 years of coaching football throughout the State of Washington, named Carver, in a November 1956 Seattle Times article, among the five best football players he had ever coached and the best of those he coached during his many years at Garfield. Carver was also a second team All-City anchor for Garfield’s 880-yard relay team and was named “Most Inspirational” by his fellow track team members. Carver was very active in student government while at Garfield and was elected Class President his senior year.

The legendary Darrell Royal, Head Football Coach at the University of Washington in 1956, offered Carver a four-year football scholarship to the university with the admonition, “Although you’re small, if you continue to show the desire and perseverance you displayed while playing ball at Garfield you will have no difficulty retaining your scholarship.” Carver went on to earn three varsity letters in football, averaging five yards per carry rushing over three years. He was a starter at the beginning of the 1959 season, but tore the ligaments and cartilage in his knee in the second game. He was declared lost for the year but built up his knee enough by the end of the season to play in the historic 1960 Rose Bowl when the Huskies drubbed Wisconsin 44 to 7. Carver, George Fleming Joe Jones, and Ray Jackson “…represented the largest total of first-line Negro backs ever to perform in the historic ‘daddy’ of all the annual bowl games …” up to that time. Carver and his teammates were inducted in Husky Hall of Fame in 1994, the first Husky football team to be so honored, and regarded by many as the best football team to ever play for the University. The team continues to have reunions every few years. Carver was also honored by being recognized as a “Husky Football Legend” on November 8, 1997, at Husky Stadium during halftime ceremonies. Carver also earned a varsity letter in track at the University of Washington as a quarter miler during his junior year, but was unable to compete his senior year because of his knee injury. He graduated from the University in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History with a minor in English.

Beginning a Career

After graduation, Carver was hired by Husky football coach Jim Owens (1927-2009) in the fall of 1960 as a graduate assistant coach while he worked on his teaching credentials. In that role he was proud of the fact that he contributed to the team winning its second consecutive Rose Bowl victory with a victory over the University of Minnesota on New Years Day 1961.

In September of that year, Carver was hired by his alma mater, Garfield High School to teach English, social studies, and coach football. Outside of thoroughly enjoying teaching at Garfield, the highlight of his two-year tenure was meeting Martin Luther King Jr. after an assembly at the school in the fall of 1961. Reverend Samuel McKinney, Pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, invited Carver to meet with the great civil rights leader privately after his historic visit to Garfield. It was the thrill of a lifetime for the young teacher.

During the administration of President John Kennedy, the President's brother Robert, the U.S. Attorney General, encouraged blacks to become Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. After a casual conversation with his brother Gary about becoming an agent, Carver applied and to his surprise was accepted. The letter formalizing his appointment was signed by the F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover and dated November 14, 1963. He received the letter a few days before the assassination of the President. Carver became the first black F. B. I. agent from the state of Washington, one of only a dozen or so in the U. S., and the only black agent assigned to the states of Kansas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania during his four years in the Bureau.

Carver was assigned to the Philadelphia Office for three years and handled primarily bank robbery and fugitive cases. From time to time he would conduct background checks for Presidential appointments, investigations of the “La Costa Nostra” as well as security matters. Carver received numerous commendations for his service, several of which were from the controversial J. Edgar Hoover. Carver’s first-hand observations of poverty and lack of education among people of color in the ghettoes of the cities in the East convinced him to return to the field of education. He continued graduate studies at night while in Philadelphia, and was close to completing his Master's Degree in Education Administration at Temple University when he was recruited away from the F.B. I., in November 1997.

The director of Special Security Programs at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, in Sunnyvale, California, contacted Carver to become a member of a small select team of former F.B.I. and Secret Service agents to oversee security programs for highly classified government projects at the company. He accepted the job as a Security Representative, seeing it as an opportunity to do some interesting work with a good salary, and a chance to get back to the West Coast. He continued his graduate studies at San Jose State University, but changed his major to Political Science.

Carver and his family had been living in Mountain View, California, for only a few months when he was contacted by the Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Washington, Joe Kearny (1927-2010), who called on behalf of Jim Owens, the Head Football Coach and Athletic Director and representatives of the U. of W. Black Alumni Association. He was told that Jim Owens was under attack from former and current black athletes for his policies and practices and wanted him to accept the position of assistant coach of the football team.

University of Washington Years

After much soul searching, deliberation, and negotiation, in the summer of 1968 Carver decided to accept the job offer by the University and was hired by the Athletic Department as assistant football and track coach and counselor. He also had an assignment as Assistant to the Vice President for University Relations, Robert Waldo. Carver became the first full-time black coach in the history of the University of Washington. Although Carver worked in the Athletic Department for only 15 months, he was directly or indirectly responsible for the retention and recruitment of more black football players (14) than ever before in the program's history. Georg Myers, Sports writer for The Seattle Times pointed out in the spring of 1969, these figures “…are mentionable because a year ago to the month, national publications labeled Washington as a school whose Negro alumni advised black athletes to shun.” Two of the players Carver recruited were junior college all conference players from San Francisco Junior College, Joe Bell, and Ralph Bayard as well as San Francisco’s Calvin Jones who was “Player of the Year” two consecutive years in the city’s high school league. Each of the three went on to become starters for the Huskies, with Jones becoming an All American defensive back and a star defender for the Denver Broncos for many years.

The positive turn around regarding race relations for the football program was short-lived. A threatened boycott by some of the black athletes in October 1969 led Coach Owens to suspend four black players. In support of the black athletes, and in protest of the suspensions, Carver resigned. As a result of his stand, Carver and his family received mail and phone threats of harm from across the nation.

In December 1969, Dr. John Hogness, Executive Vice President of the University, appointed Carver to the new position of Director of Affirmative Programs, reporting directly to Dr. Hogness’s office. His responsibility was to establish policies and programs to increase the numbers of minority faculty and staff at the university. He established the first affirmative program by an institution of higher education in the state. Additionally he initiated the first comprehensive staff training program for the university.

During the seven years he served in this position he continued to take graduate courses, completing his Masters of Public Administration in 1972 and his Ph.D. in Political Science in 1976. The title of his dissertation is “Federal Funding and Its Impact on the University.” His major areas of emphasis included political theory, organizational theory, higher education policy and public administration policy. Carver’s primary mentor while working on his dissertation was Professor Dael Wolfle, an internationally recognized scholar in higher education and workforce policy and the former managing editor of Science magazine. While working on his doctorate Carver taught courses in political theory and the politics of black Americans as a teaching assistant in the Political Science Department.

A Move South and Back Home Again

In 1977, Carver became a full-time assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He taught graduate students and conducted research in organizational theory. His first exposure to the Deep South was an eye opening and delightful experience. He found that “southern hospitality” was a reality. The people in the town, especially those in the black community, made him feel at home. He was in Tallahassee for two years.

In August of 1979 he had airline reservations to fly to the city of Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia (former) to do three years research of their public personnel system, when he got a call from a former colleague with whom he had served as Directors on the Seattle School Board. Phil Swain was Corporate Director of Education and Training for The Boeing Company and invited Carver to work in his office and represent Boeing in setting up a new engineering college in the Seattle area under the sponsorship of the company. The excitement and challenge of working and living in Yugoslavia was enticing for Carver; however, his desire to be back home in Seattle with his family and the challenge of working in the field of education with a large and influential corporation won out over the Balkans. He cancelled his Dubrovnik reservations and left Tallahassee, bound for Seattle and the great Boeing Company.

The Boeing Years

During Carver’s first three years at Boeing as Corporate Manager of Education Relations, he was the lead executive in overseeing a contract between Boeing and Cogswell College, a private institution in San Francisco. The object was to establish a night school extension campus in the Seattle area that would offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in engineering technology, targeting primarily Boeing employees with technical Associate of Arts Degrees. Cogswell became the very first institution of higher learning in the state to offer an evening B.S Degree in engineering. After initial years of struggle, Cogswell became a thriving college of engineering in Everett, offering a variety of accredited engineering degrees. The emergence of Cogswell in Washington influenced the state legislature to provide funds for each regional university in the state to establish engineering technology degree programs to meet the needs of industry. Carver was promoted to Corporate Director of Education Relations and Training in the mid 1980s with responsibility for policy development for corporate wide training and education programs and management of the company’s giving program for educational institutions. In 1991 he was promoted to Corporate Director of College and University Relations, and managed policy development, research, recruitment and contributions programs and activities relevant to Boeing’s national interface with colleges and universities.

While at Boeing, Carver received considerable local, national, and international recognition for educational programs and activities he initiated and led. He received the National Association of Partnerships in Education’s McKee award for the innovative business/education partnerships he developed for the corporation. The Boeing Company received many awards for the programs he developed such as the National Service Award from the Employment Management Association (composed exclusively of Fortune 500 companies) for the most innovative human resource program in the nation and from the National Alliance for Business for developing the “best school to work program in the United States.”

He was a keynote speaker and presented papers for national conferences on education reform throughout the United States. A highlight of his career at Boeing was when he was asked by the European Community and the United States Department of Education to present a paper and keynote at an international conference in Noordwijk, The Netherlands in 1992. The conference was entitled “Schools and Industry: Partners for a Quality Education.” The title of his speech and paper was “Responding to the Skills Gap: The Boeing Company and Tech Prep.” Carver was also invited by the governments of Turkey, Canada, The Bahamas, and Jamaica to keynote international conferences on education reform, with emphasis on skill needs of industry. He also served on many national and international panels as an expert on education and training issues. His work at The Boeing Company was recognized by the U.S. Senate when he was asked by the Senate Subcommittee on Education, chaired by Senator Jim Jeffords, to present testimony, in June 1995, on the education programs he developed and led.

A New Challenge: State Government

Carver had been very pleased with his accomplishments and the exciting challenges before him at The Boeing Company; however, in December 1996 Governor Elect Gary Locke telephoned Carver and asked him if he would join his Executive Cabinet as the Commissioner of the Washington State Department of Employment Security. Carver was extremely flattered by the Governor’s request, but advised him that he needed to take time to think it over. Carver’s first reaction was to turn down the offer, but after considerable discussion with his wife, Boeing colleagues, and close friends he decided to take the position. The challenge of managing an agency of 2,500 employees and a half a billion dollar budget got his competitive juices flowing. Carver called the Governor a week later to accept the appointment.

Carver assumed his duties as Commissioner in March 1997. During his years as Commissioner, he led the greatest changes in the agency’s 65 year history. In one year alone over 1,000 employees had their jobs revised to meet the technological requirements needed for improvement of customer services. Concurrently, services for customers regarding unemployment benefit programs went from 38 sites throughout the State to three telephonic centers. While all these changes took place, agency employees not only met but exceeded the vast majority of the goals and targets that had been set for the Department. As a result of these accomplishments the agency received dozens of quality improvement awards from the Governor’s Office and a score of recognitions from the U. S. Department of Labor, among other national awards. In 1999 the agency was named one of the most innovative state/local government programs in the nation by the Rutgers University Productivity Center for its work in welfare reform. Carver was personally recognized in 2001 in Portland, Oregon, by the National Network Consortium, as the recipient of the Augustus F. Hawkins Meritorious Service Award given “…to an individual for outstanding and long term commitment to the workforce development community.” The award was first given to Congressman Gus Hawkins in 1993 after his retirement from the U. S. House of Representatives.

Carver retired from the Governors Office in 2001, fulfilling his commitment to the Governor when he was first appointed, that he would stay with the agency from two to four years. Additionally, he was satisfied that he had accomplished the goals and objectives he had set out to meet.

Carver is currently a lecturer at the Dan Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington and a consultant in education reform and workforce development.

Voluntary Service

Growing up in Seattle, Carver was imbued with the concepts of volunteerism and community service by his parents. As a result Carver has accepted appointments to a vast number of local, state and national boards and committees over the past 35 years. The number of appointments is too numerous to list here; however, an indication of his involvement is as follows:

Appointments by five Washington State Governors; Governor Evans, Washington State Youth Commission; Governor Spellman, Washington State Committee on Education, Policy, Structure and Management; Governor Lowery, Governor’s Council on School-To-Work; Governor Gardner, Seattle Community College Board of Trustees (Re-appointed by Governor Locke) on which he served as President for two terms. Carver also served on many national boards including appointment by the U. S. Department of Education National Advisory Panel/National Center for Post Secondary Governance and Finance and as a board member of The Association of Governing Boards.

Carver was appointed to the Seattle School Board as a Director in early 1973 to fill the uncompleted term of the first African American to hold that position, Alfred Cowles. He ran unopposed for election in November 1973 and served until the end of 1975 to pursue his doctorate degree. He was especially proud of two accomplishments while on the board: (1) authoring the Board’s first affirmative action policy for faculty and staff, and (2) leading the board toward restructuring Garfield High School as an “exemplary” magnet school with emphases in science and math. Garfield was threatened with closure by the Washington State Superintendent’s Office for failure to meet state desegregation guidelines, because of its nearly 90 percent black enrollment.

Carver was a founding board member of City Club, and Leadership Tomorrow, where he served as vice president. Other board involvement includes Trustee, KCTS, Channel 9 Association Board; Seattle Municipal League; and Pacific Science Center Foundation. He served as President of the Independent Colleges of Washington Board of Trustees; Chairman, Presidents Club University of Washington; Chairman of the Board for Pioneer Human Services; and President of the University of Washington Alumni Association. Carver was the first and only African American (as of this date, May 2004) to serve as President of the University’s Alumni Association.

Carver continues to serve on many committee’s and boards in the Seattle community including: Co-Chair, African American Museum Campaign, Seattle Urban League; Vice President, Haas Foundation; Board of Trustees and as one of two chairs for the Seattle Public Schools Committee for Fiscal Integrity, which is continuing its review of the financial crisis that hit the School District in 2003.

Local and Regional Honors and Recognitions

Carver’s many local and regional recognitions include induction into the Fredrick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Honor Society (1988), and recipient of the Blacks in Government (Region 10) Outstanding Citizen Award (1989). He was named a “University of Washington Alumni Legend” by the Sabey Corporation and KIRO News Radio, in cooperation with the University of Washington, in 1987. The selection panel, lead by University Provost Sol Katz, “…chose these particular Legends because their successes and contributions have had a remarkable impact on their communities, their state and their nation.” The other 50 legends selected included Dale Chihuly, Senator Dan Evans, Elmer Nordstrom, and Carver’s first cousin, Donald Gayton Phelps.

In 1997 Carver became the first African American alumnus of the University of Washington to receive the Alumni Association’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award “…in recognition of devoted service to the Alumni Association and the University.” In the spring of 1997 Carver was further recognized by being selected as the commencement speaker at graduation ceremonies for Central Washington State University, Saint Martins College, and City University.

Immediate Family

Carver has three children from a previous marriage to Mona Lombard: Cynthia Marie Gayton, Esq.; Carver Clark Gayton Jr., and Captain Craig Michael Gayton, D.D.S. Cynthia is a successful attorney in the Washington D.C. area and an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Engineering at George Washington University. Clark (Carver Jr.) lives in Manhattan and is a world-class musician, performing around the globe with such groups as the Sting, Lionel Hampton, McCoy Tyner, and Charlie Mingus Bands. Craig, a practicing dentist, is also a Captain in the U. S. Army completing a graduate program in periodontics at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Carver is married to Carmen Walker Gayton, a native of Anderson, South Carolina. They have one child, Chandler Walker Gayton. Carmen is a realtor and is very active in Seattle as a volunteer in the arts and education communities. Carver is particularly proud of the accomplishments of his three adult children, and the fact that his youngest son, Chandler who has a strong aptitude for mathematics and science shows promise to follow in the stellar foot-steps of his older siblings, and possibly become the first engineer in the Gayton family. Of all the positives regarding Carver’s life, he is most proud of the accomplishments and well being of his children.


Georg N. Myers, “The Sporting Thing: Farewell to Football,” The Seattle Times, October 21, 1959; Rose Bowl official Program: Washington vs Wisconsin, January 1, 1960, Pasadena, California; “Gayton Good Choice,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 8, 1968; Lewis Clarke, Narratives of the Sufferings of Lewis and Milton Clarke: Sons of a Soldier of the Revolution,(New York: Arno Press, New York Times, 1969); Gordy Holt, “Gayton Brothers: Troublemakers or What?” Seattle Post- Intelligencer, April 26, 1970; “12 Women, 2 Men Nominated for Seattle Women’s Commission,” The Seattle Times, March 27, 1971; Constantine Angelos, “Gayton Concerned About Entire City,” Ibid., April 1, 1973; Paul Boyd, “Gayton is Setting his Sights High,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 1, 1973; Audrey Edwards, “A Family Christmas: The Making of a Memory,” Redbook Magazine, December 1973; “Gayton to Chair National Association of Affirmative Action Officers Conference,” The Medium, July 25, 1974; Walt Evans, “Hark! Tis a Time for Governor Dan,” The Seattle Times, December 16, 1976; Doug Watton, “Minority ‘institution’ Moving to Sun Country,” University of Washington Daily, April 5, 1977; Walt Evans, “A Lot of Life: From Football to Varied Careers, Gayton has Filled Years with Action,” The Seattle Times, May 19, 1980; Ronald W. Powell, “Four Pioneering Black Women Honored,” Ibid., April 16, 1985; Carver Gayton, “Business Can Help Themselves by Supporting Education,” Seattle Business, December 1986; “U of W Awards Recognize Outstanding Graduates,” The Seattle Times, November 22, 1987; Carrie Dolan, “The Educator Executive,” Wall Street Journal, February 9, 1990; Carver Gayton, “Responding to the Skills Gap: The Boeing Company and Tech Prep,” E.C./U. S Conference, the Proceedings, Schools and Industry: Partners for Quality Education, Nordwijk, The Netherlands, 25-26 June, 1992; Carver Gayton, “Tech Prep: A Business Perspective, The Tech Prep Associate Degree Challenge,” American Association of Community Colleges, Report No. 6, 1994; Carver Gayton, “What’s in it for Business: Powerful Partnerships for School to Career Success,” American Vocational Association, 1996; David Foster, “Seattle Pioneer’s Legacy: A Proud Confident Family,” Los Angeles Times, February 4, 1996; “Boeing Corporate Director to Address National Consultation on Worker Profiles for the 21st Century,” The Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica), May 4, 1996; “Minority Execs Join Cabinet,” The Seattle Times, January 24, 1997; “Best of 1997: University of Washington honors Top Professors, TAs, Volunteers,” Columns Magazine, June 1997; Susan Phinney, “Men of Influence,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 17, 1998.

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