Carol Bruns Bauer
Doctor of Humane Letters
Longtime Washington University benefactor Carol B. Bauer grew up in St. Louis in a family of modest means and a tradition of service.
A steadfast volunteer, chaplain and former teacher, Mrs. Bauer has spent her life giving to others, with a focus on improving education and health care. She has worked with homebound children with disabilities, managed a home-based nursery school, taught at a nursery school, raised a family, and now serves as a hospital chaplain.
While a student at Harris Teachers’ College in St. Louis and president of the Baptist Student Union, Mrs. Bauer met her future husband, George P. Bauer, BS ’53, MS ’59, then a Washington University student and vice president of the Interfaith Council. After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1954, Mrs. Bauer taught in St. Louis public schools.
The Bauers married in 1955 and moved 18 times in the first 25 years of their marriage for Mr. Bauer’s job with IBM. When IBM sent the Bauers to Paris in 1972, the family lived for four years on the grounds of Malmaison, the country estate of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte. Mrs. Bauer immersed herself in the estate’s history and gave small private tours to visitors. Once back in the United States, she gave lectures on the Bonapartes across the country for 12 years.
To foster what the Bauers, who live in Wilton, Connecticut, call the “Sunday/Monday connection,” a term to describe their goal of bridging the spiritual and the secular in their lives, they founded the Bauer Family Foundation in 1989 to benefit others.
Mrs. Bauer has contributed extensively to nearby Norwalk Hospital since 1978, providing service and visionary leadership. She founded and led the hospital’s Emergency Room Reception Volunteers, a group she remained involved with for 25 years.
A member of the hospital’s Board of Trustees for 19 years, she was the first woman elected chair. After going back to school to earn a certificate in clinical pastoral education, Mrs. Bauer began volunteering in 2002 as a hospital chaplain, a role she continues to this day.
As chaplain in the hospital’s childbirth center, she is often on call at all hours of the night, offering comfort and counsel to parents whose babies are in the neonatal intensive care unit, as well as to parents whose children have died.
As she said in a Washington magazine interview in 2013, “It is a privilege to help bring a spiritual presence to people in times of crisis.”
In 1992, the Bauers established the Jeffrey Peter Bauer Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Norwalk Hospital in memory of their first child, who died in the hospital when he was five days old.
Through their foundation, the Bauers created a Connecticut chapter of the national I Have a Dream program, which provides individualized social, emotional and academic support to young people in low-income communities from kindergarten through college, along with guaranteed tuition support.
In the late 1990s, the Bauers personally “adopted” 43 children from a South Norwalk housing project, offering them post-high school education if they stayed in school.
In 2015, the Connecticut NAACP recognized Mrs. Bauer for her volunteer work in the Greater Norwalk community with the Barbara Jean Edmonds Penn Memorial Award for Community Service at its annual Freedom Fund Banquet.
During a Washington University alumni trip to Thailand in 1994, the Bauers visited the village of Chiang Rai, where missionaries were offering sanctuary to young girls rescued from prostitution. The Bauers supported a new building that provides shelter, education and employment for 150 girls and women. They have frequently traveled to Thailand to stay involved with
The Bauers’ commitment to young people extends to Washington University, where Mr. Bauer is an emeritus trustee. Among their many generous contributions to the university, they have provided scholarships for students and established an ongoing endowment to provide emergency financial aid to students experiencing unforeseen financial difficulties.
Mrs. Bauer has served on the boards of the international humanitarian organization AmeriCares, The Tiny Miracles Foundation and the American School of Paris, among others.
For her work with Norwalk Hospital, she received its inaugural Founders’ Award at its 125th anniversary gala in 2018, and the Connecticut Hospital Association gave her its Health Care Hero Award in 2012.
The Bauers have three children and five grandchildren.