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Desmond Spencer Cartwright


desmond cartwright

October 27th, 1924 - July 29th, 2021

Celebrating the life of Des Cartwright
October 27, 1924-July 29, 2021
Graveside Committal Service: Wednesday, August 11, 2021, 11:00 a.m.
Olinger Chapel Hill Cemetery
6601 S. Colorado Blvd.
Centennial, CO 80121
Luncheon following, 1682 W. Canal Ct., Littleton, CO. 80120

“I get sillier every day, but it’s better than getting grumpier.”
~G-pa Des to Melaina

My love is.
Present and future feel
Of one kind: living here is real.
The past is filled, deposited,
A sack of baggage, some excess,
Some of use in future dress.
Doings achieve; they change the world.
Goings may rearrange the world.

Birds look across the sky
And clouds capture the evening sun.
There is no purpose, no excuse,
No connectedness, nor eternal use
For nothingness.

Loneliness is a world where
My love is not.
Loveliness is a world where
My love is.
~D.S.Cartwright, 1970

Desmond Spencer Cartwright was born in Brondesbury Villas, Kilburn (London) England on October 27, 1924 to Margaret Mary Bounds Cartwright and Alfred Spencer Cartwright. Spence was a jeweler’s assistant at that time, and Des’s grandfather Charles was a jeweler who worked at Dibdin & CO Ltd. When Spence and Margaret’s marriage deteriorated, they separated, and Spence and Des moved into the home of Spence’s parents, Charles and Clara. Initially, Des was allowed to see his mother once a week, but because he cried when she left, the visits ceased to be granted.

In July of 1926, the family decided to place Des in an orphanage. Des described this as very traumatic, since they would occasionally come get him—he was allowed to go to the seaside at Margate beach with them for vacation in summertime, for example—but being returned to the orphanage and left again was devastating to a young, sensitive boy. Ultimately, he contracted an illness at the orphanage and Spence brought him home to the flat where he and his new wife, Miriam, lived above the shop where he worked as a sign maker when Des was a teenager.

Des did very well in school, where his exceptional intelligence was rewarded with a full scholarship to the private high school associated with the University of London. There he learned lots of math, Latin, French, and German. He participated on the boxing team. By the time he was 17, WWII was raging. When their flat was bombed, his father and stepmother hid in a bomb shelter while Des was left alone in his bedroom. Des placed a large bureau in front of the window and hid behind it. A bomb hit in a nearby field, blew out the window, and knocked over the bureau. Des survived the blast because the bureau hit the footboard of the bed instead of crushing him. He believed that particular German pilot showed great mercy to the Londoners he was sent to kill by targeting an area that was less populated and aiming for a field. Des enlisted in the British army to go to war one day after his 18th birthday.

He served in the Armored Corps in India and Burma helping the British retake Burma from the Japanese. To get there, he described traveling to the tip of Ireland and sailing for four months, far beyond the reach of German submarines. When he arrived in Burma, he drove a tank, fell out of a tree while being bitten by ants, and developed deep friendships with several Indian and English comrades. Des taught himself Hindi and then Japanese. His pain and guilt over the 1947 British/Indian colonial conflict were immense. He was transferred to the Intelligence Corps and until 1948, he adjudicated Japanese war crimes. Sentencing others to death was yet another huge source of guilt and pain for Des. He earned the Burma Star, the Defense Medal, the Battle of Britain Star, and the War Medal of 1939-1945.

After returning home to London, Des bought a house boat that he named “?Quien Sabe?" One time he rented the boat to a couple and they sank it. He had to drag it up from the Thames and rebuild it. When the man told him about the boat foundering, he said, “The missus says, she says, “George, me shoes is floatin!”

Des studied psychology at the University of London under the mentorship of Hans Eysenck, who was a very well-known personality theorist. While in graduate school, Des met a life-long friend named Norton Kristy, who convinced him to move to the University of Chicago for his Ph.D. so he could study with Carl Rogers, the founder of client-centered therapy. During his Ph.D. studies, Des met and married Dr. Rosalind Falk Dymond Cartwright, who was working with Dr. Rogers at the University of Chicago, and they had two daughters, Christine and Carolyn. The marriage faltered and Des moved to Boulder, CO to take a tenure track position in the psychology department at the University of Colorado.

On December 18, 1961, Des married Carol Hawkins Cartwright, who was a Ph.D. candidate in experimental psychology at C.U. They had one daughter together, Jacqueline, and Des spent the remainder of his psychology career at C.U. Boulder, working on gang delinquency theory, consulting for the state prison system, teaching personality theory, writing books, doing research, starting and editing a journal called Multivariate Behavioral Research, and mentoring graduate students.

Des was married to Carol for 21 years, but they divorced in 1983. By January 1, 1991, he had found happiness again in marriage with Helene Peckar Cartwright and gained a step-son, Steven Peckar, and a step-daughter, Cindy Gross. Des and Helene traveled extensively after his retirement. They moved frequently due to wanderlust, and Des became extremely interested in learning Cubist painting techniques, writing poetry, and studying the communication capabilities and behavior of his beloved rabbits, Mr. Peaches and Chocolat. He wrote for the House Rabbit Society. At the time of Helene’s death in 2013, Des returned to his hometown of Boulder where he enjoyed reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, caring for his cat, Hugo, and playing the double solitaire game “Collaboration” that he invented and published with Helene’s mother, Edythe.

In 2017, he and Carol reconciled. They were planning to remarry, but time was too short. As Des became ill with cancer, Carol welcomed him into her home and cared for him faithfully and lovingly until his death. She read him Thornton W. Burgess stories, The Great Brain, and lots of other books. They played cards for hours each day, and occasional chess. She even made him his favorite dishes like kippers, liver and onions, and kidney stew. That’s devotion!

Des is preceded in death by his first wife, Rosalind D. Cartwright, his daughter Christine Cartwright, and his fourth wife, Helene Cartwright. He is survived by his second wife, Carol Cartwright, his daughter Carolyn Cartwright and grandson Max Meyers, his daughter Jacqueline Cartwright-Mills (Tim Mills) and grandchildren Melaina and Aaron Mills, and his stepson Steven Peckar (Mindy Levy), stepdaughter Cindy Gross, and step-grandson Hayden.

This week, a wise friend said, “Times of great transition give opportunities for great transformation.” We wish for abundant love to be created at this time. Contributing to one of the following would honor Des: sending Carol on a New England river boat cruise which she dearly would have loved to have done with Des. Contribute to The PAN Foundation to whom we are grateful for providing Des the experimental cancer drug that kept him stable for the last six months. Contribute to the Colorado House Rabbit Society.

We appreciate hearing from you and want to know your remembrances of our deep, sensitive, fun-loving and extremely complex Des. Please address cards and remembrances to Carol Cartwright 1692 W. Canal Circle, #1016, Littleton, CO 80120.