Great-grandfather earns doctorate |

Great-grandfather earns doctorate

Teri Vance
Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealNaomi Karr helps her husband, Don, with his graduation hood on Friday at home in Carson City.

Don Karr, who moved to Carson City from Smith Valley around 1990, received his Ph.D. in psychology during a ceremony at the University of Nevada, Reno, on Friday.

At 74, he didn’t consider age to be a deterrent.

“I don’t accept that you’re too old,” he said.

Karr first considered expanding his knowledge in the field of psychology after his daughter and son-in-law became foster parents in 1999. He and his wife fostered some children as well.

“Looking at the behaviors of these kids reinforced my interest in it,” he said. “I needed to learn what caused the behavior.”

A successful career as an airline transport pilot didn’t stop him from pursuing his new interest either.

His initial master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University did not fulfill his prerequisite courses for psychology so he first earned a second master’s in psychology.

Ten years after he started, he is now a doctor of psychology. He would like to work with Western Nevada College to train others to receive board certification as assistant behavior therapists to work with autistic children.

Although he has since lost the daughter who piqued his interest through foster care, he said he wants to set an example for his other four children, 12 grandchildren and soon-to-be-eight great-grandchildren.

“Part of the reason I did this was to demonstrate to them that you can do what you want to do and be what you want to be,” he said. “It’s never too late.”

Karr’s wife, Naomi, said she is proud of her husband but not surprised.

“He’s been in school since we were dating, that was 54 years ago,” she said. “This is just another step, and it’s going to be exciting.”

Their children and grandchildren are coming in from across the country.

“All the kids are flying in from everywhere,” she said. “They’re just really proud of their father and grandfather.”

The University of Nevada, Reno’s 2011 Spring Commencement for bachelor’s degrees is 8 a.m. today on the historic Quad on the south side of campus.


WHAT: Spring Commencement

Where: University of Nevada, Reno, Quad

When: 8 a.m. today.