HUNTSVILLE — Shirley Laxton Carson, the wife of former Scott County district attorney general and TBI director Arzo Carson, died Saturday at her Huntsville home. Her family said she passed peacefully.
Carson was perhaps best-known as the wife of Arzo Carson, to whom she was married for 62 years. But she enjoyed a lengthy professional career of her own, working for both the late U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. and later for the State of Tennessee and Vanderbilt Medical Center after her husband’s duties took him to Nashville.
Born June 24, 1936 to the late Loma Wright Laxton and Ohlen Laxton in Oneida, Mrs. Carson grew up in Huntsville and graduated from Huntsville High School. After graduation, she went to work for the Baker law practice, and it was there that she met her future husband.
Arzo Carson practiced law with Baker until he was elected as Scott County’s district attorney general.
It was while still in his role as D.A. that Carson was tabbed by then-Gov. Lamar Alexander to head the state’s investigative law enforcement agency, which was then known as the Tennessee Bureau of Criminal Identification.
The bureau, which is known today as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, was in the process of being reformed when Carson was appointed to the lead role. He wrote much of the legislation that established the TBI as an independent state agency, and was then appointed by Alexander to serve two terms as its director.
Carson retired from the TBI in 1990 and returned home to Huntsville. In 2009, then-Gov. Phil Bredesen bestowed upon him the title of TBI director emeritus, and named the TBI’s Nashville headquarters the Arzo Carson TBI State Office Building.
Following their retirement, the Carsons traveled extensively in both the U.S. and Canada, and hiked much of the Appalachian Trail.
Mrs. Carson has two children, Jared Carson and wife Michelle of Huntsville, and Scarlett Wirt of Maryland. She also has two grandchildren, John Carson and Merry Lay.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete as of Sunday evening and are being prepared by Jones & Son Funeral Home.