Maurice Carroll, Political Reporter and Pollster, Dies in 86

Mr. Carroll joined the university’s polling institute only a year after it had been formally founded, and he went on to play a significant function in transforming Quinnipiac’s photo – from that of an obscure college or university named for an area Indian tribe into that of a university with a trusted and widely quoted countrywide opinion survey.

As a hardened reporter – biting on a pencil, a cellphone cradled to his ear – Mr. Carroll possessed a flair for details and nuance in content articles that he appeared to create effortlessly and that he sent dependably on deadline.

He started his peripatetic career in NJ reporting for The Passaic Herald Media, The Jersey Journal and The Star-Ledger of Newark. In NY, besides The Situations, he proved helpful for The Herald Tribune, The Journal American, THE BRAND NEW York Post and NY Newsday.

He was doing work for The Tribune in 1963 when he was sent to Dallas to aid the columnist Jimmy Breslin and the veteran reporter Robert S. Byrd following the Kennedy assassination, and he was in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters when the nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot Oswald amid a scrum of reporters and photographers.

He later wrote of Oswald: “I may have shouted the last words he was first ever to hear: ‘How about it, Lee!’ ”

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The Tribune had Mr. Carroll create a first-person bank account, which landed on the front page.

He also covered Ruby’s murder trial and conviction and helped Melvin Belli, Ruby’s celebrated security lawyer, write “Dallas Justice: The Real Report of Jack Ruby and His Trial” (1964).

The Texas journalist George Fuermann wrote of that book in THE BRAND NEW York Times Book Review that it “expresses the author’s vengeance against the city,” where Belli argued that the shooting have been an act of “unthinking impulse.”

Mr. Carroll wrote another book about the case, “Accidental Assassin: Jack Ruby and 4 Mins in Dallas” (2014), which sought to debunk the theory that Ruby have been involved in a Kennedy assassination conspiracy.

Known to be cranky but easily amused, Mr. Carroll would quite often pepper his reporting with wry and iconoclastic asides.

“The best of most possible promises has two elements,” he wrote in 1977. “It involves something thoroughly worthwhile doing, and another person to accomplish it.”

Covering the swearing-in of Abraham D. Beame as mayor of NEW YORK in 1974 – on the heels of the eight-yr work of Mr. Beame’s glamorous predecessor, John V. Lindsay – Mr. Carroll wrote dryly: “The Beames are not a reclusive family, however they do not coordinate their activities for the 6 o’clock news.”

And within an unusually frank evaluation of an incumbent politician, Mr. Carroll wrote in 1979, “Since his daddy helped him acquire a seat in the New York Status Assembly, Andrew J. Stein has lived almost all of his professional life among persons who detest him.”

At Quinnipiac, as the principle spokesman for the New York and NJ polls, he was known for distilling raw survey results into quotable quips and selling battle-scarred observations on political promotions. He once said to a seemingly overheated press corps after a applicants’ debate, “Debates have a profound impact on the persons who cover them.”

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Maurice Camillus Carroll (the center name was first for the Roman statesman) was born on May 24, 1931, in Rutherford, N.J. His father, who was simply also named Maurice and who went by Mike, was a businessman. His mother, the ex – Dorothy Joyce, was a bookkeeper.

Mr. Carroll graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1952. His marriage to the ex – Margaret Wade finished in divorce.

He is survived by their child, Michael, a fresh Jersey assemblyman; their daughters, Elizabeth Carroll and Eileen Carroll; 10 grandchildren; and a sister, Anne Shannon. Another child, Patrick, died in 2005. In 1976 he married Elizabeth Fallon, who was simply a columnist for The Daily Media beneath the byline Beth Fallon. She died in 2006.

After retiring from newspapers, Mr. Carroll also educated at the Columbia University Graduate University of Journalism, NY University and Montclair Status University in NJ.

He never lost his reporter’s perspective, though, advising would-be journalists to never take on themselves too seriously, regardless of how important the news headlines they’re covering could be.

“When you’re a good reporter, you’re there at different things,” he said, reflecting on his Kennedy assassination protection. “And then it had been over with, and I went back to reporting the news headlines.”

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