Carroll Lamar Pickett

Carroll Lamar “Bud” Pickett went to Heaven on April 3, 2022 from heart failure. He was surrounded by the love of family, friends, and all the people he impacted throughout his life of ministry and faith. He was 88 years old.

Carroll was born in Nursery, Texas to Richard Clifford Pickett and Lydia Teresa Marcak Pickett. He graduated from Victoria High School as Salutatorian and then from Austin College in Sherman, Texas with a BA in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts. After graduation, he attended Austin Presbyterian Seminary where he completed a BD, Doctor of Ministries. He began his career as Pastor to the Sinton Presbyterian Church in Sinton, Texas and then moved to Victoria, Texas to accept a position as Associate Pastor to the First Presbyterian Church. He was then called to Huntsville, Texas where he became the minister for the First Presbyterian Church for 13 years. Carroll was then called to prison ministry in 1980 as Chaplain at the Walls Unit (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) where he ministered to over 2,500 inmates. When Texas reinstated the death penalty, he also ministered to 96 men who were executed by the state of Texas.

Since that time, he has written a book entitled, “Within These Walls” and was featured in the documentary “At the Death House Door,” produced by Steve James and Peter Gilbert, Kartemquin Films, IFC TV Channel, and the Chicago Tribune. He also served as an expert witness on cases on appeal speaking out against the death penalty. His book and the documentary have both received national and international awards. Carroll has personally received several awards over the years including the National Distinguished Alumnus award and an Honorary Doctorate, both from Austin College, and was inducted into the Austin College Athletic Hall of Honor. Austin College also established a tennis scholarship in his honor. For his prison ministry, he received a Resolution of Appreciation from the Texas Board of Criminal Justice and was honored by the inmates at the Walls Unit on his 12th anniversary of work as their chaplain.

Carroll is survived by his heart and soul, Jane Jarrell Pickett, and wife of almost 33 years. She has given him immeasurable joy and filled his life with meaning and laughter. He also loved his wife of 27 years, Sonya Campbell Pickett, with whom he created four wonderful children, Karel Henry, Anne Ellis, Steve Pickett, and Charlotte Hirschfelder. Together, Carroll and Jane have seven children including Jane’s beautiful daughters, Kelley White, Stacy Ely, and Jody Smith and 16 grandchildren who have brought much pride and fun to their lives, including Beth Villanueva, Erin Henry, Justin Vahala, Jamie Vahala, Joshua Vahala, Michael Hirschfelder, David Hirschfelder, Anna Pickett, Tres White, Travis White, Ally Ely, Luke Ely, Paige Smith, Ansley Smith, Will Smith, and Walker Smith. They have eight great grandchildren. Carroll is also survived by his sidekicks and brothers, Ken Pickett and Bill Pickett, and his two little sisters, Shirley Prause and Sandy Winfield and remembered fondly his older brother who passed away four years ago, Richard Clifford “Bo” Pickett. He also loved and cherished each and every one of his nieces and nephews.

Two of Carroll’s greatest joys in life (aside from Jane, playing tennis, and his 2nd in the nation college ranking) have been serving Christ and Christian music. Toward the end of his life when death was imminent, he was asked what he wanted people to feel leaving his funeral. He paused and softly stated, “I just want people to hear all of my songs.” The Celebration of Carroll’s Life will be held on April 9, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church Kerrville. The service will be live streamed. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Peterson Hospice, First Presbyterian Church Kerrville, and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.



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