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Carlton Munro Lake

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“With deepest sympathy to Alfreda and David and their loved ones. May your fondest memories sustain you at this difficult time and always. ”
1 of 3 | Posted by: Janine Torigian - Houston, TX

“I worked in the same building with Carlton. He was a very charming person. He had a wonderful sense of humor. And when he retired his absence was...Read More »
2 of 3 | Posted by: Barbara Carr - Austin, TX

“On behalf of the Retired Faculty-Staff Association of The University of Texas at Austin, I send deepest sympathy to the family of Carlton Lake...Read More »
3 of 3 | Posted by: Martha Boyd - Austin, TX


Carlton Munro Lake, 90, passed away peacefully on May 5, 2006 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He is survived by his devoted wife of 55 years, Alfreda LeCover Lake, by their son David, and by his sons Munro and Douglas, from an earlier marriage to the late Elizabeth Robson, as well as by four grandchildren. He was born in Brockton, Massachusetts on September 7, 1915 to Elmer and Florence Lake. He graduated from Boston University in 1936, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages and Literatures. He subsequently received a Master’s degree from Columbia and later enrolled in the doctoral program in art history at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. During World War II, he served as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps, seeing action in the Pacific Theater. Following the war, he and Alfreda moved to Paris as newlyweds. There, he continued his studies at the Sorbonne, and served as the Paris art correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, as well as publishing fiction in the New Yorker and numerous profiles of modern artists in the Atlantic Monthly and other publications. In 1964, he wrote the book Life with Picasso in collaboration with Francoise Gilot, Picasso’s longtime companion. The book became a best-seller and was translated into dozens of languages. He then wrote In Quest of Dali, an account of the Surrealist master, Salvador Dali. The family then moved back to the U.S, residing in the Boston area until the mid-1970’s, when he moved to Austin to become curator of the Carlton Lake French Collection at UT’s Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. During this time he organized several major exhibitions, including Baudelaire to Beckett, and wrote a book of memoirs, Confessions of a Literary Archeologist, which detailed his passion for collecting the literary materials that eventually found their home at the University of Texas. After a stint as acting director of the center in 1978-80, he continued to work there as executive curator until his retirement in 2003. During his entire time at the HRC and beyond, he was ably assisted by his good friend and colleague, Linda Ashton, who helped him both in his work and in his final years. The family would like to thank those who provided excellent end-of-life care: Hospice Austin, Debbie Pearson R.N., Jovita Ranjel and Liona Lovings. A memorial service at the Ransom Center will take place May 24 at 3:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Carlton Lake Collection, Ransom Center, P.O. Box 7219, Austin, TX 78713-7219. Obituary and guestbook online at wcfish.com