Longtime Albany business owner and philanthropist Carl E. Touhey has died at age 95.
Family members said Touhey passed away Sunday at Albany Medical Center after complications from a stroke. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and four children, Charles Touhey, Virginia Touhey, John Touhey and Lila Marie Touhey.
Touhey spent much of his life as head of the Orange Motor Co. in Albany, a business founded by his father Charles Touhey in 1916. He also owned Touhey Associates, a real estate business. He was a founding member of WMHT television and contributed millions of dollars to WMHT, Albany Medical Center and The College of Saint Rose.
Touhey was active in several community-based organizations and was the founder of the Capital Housing Rehabilitation Corp., which has built hundreds of houses in the Capital Region. He also entered politics, running for Albany mayor in 1973. He lost a close race to incumbent Erastus Corning 2nd.
Touhey was a graduate of Albany Academy and a member of Princeton University’s class of 1939.
“He was proudest of the fact that Orange Motors has been in the family for so long and we’ve employed over 100 people in the business all these years. There’s been a lot of continuity and consistency,” son Charles Touhey said. “It’s true, after he became a successful businessman, he enjoyed philanthropy a lot. A small vignette is that when he gave the money to Albany Med, he wanted it listed for the emergency ward. He realized a lot of people without health insurance used that as their doctor of choice.”
Touhey remembered a considerate father. “His brother [Frank] lost his life in 1964 at a young age, so there were nine cousins. He became their virtual father,” Touhey said. “We always say he had 13 kids.”
Carl Keegan, Touhey’s longtime business colleague at Orange Motor, said Touhey was always interested in his business and his community.
“He was in here two or three times a week,” said Keegan, who has worked at Orange Motor for the past 40 years and is currently company vice president. “He’d stop in to see me and we’d have a few meetings, talk about the business. He was always concerned about your family … that’s the kind of guy he was.”
Keegan said Touhey didn’t stay inside the Orange offices.
“He would walk through the shop and shake hands with all the technicians,” Keegan said. “He would go over to the body shop and go into the car wash bay and talk to the car washers. That’s the kind of guy he was — down to earth, easy to get along with.”
Touhey’s passing is sad for Orange Motor, Keegan added, but also sad for the community.
“Carl was a real gentleman when it came to taking care of people,” Keegan said.
Margaret Kirwin, interim president of The College of Saint Rose, said in a news statement that Touhey was one of the college’s great friends and benefactors. She said he became a member of the college’s board of trustees in 1991 and served until 2005. His $2 million donation to the college in 2000 laid the foundation for the Thelma P. Lally School of Education.
“Carl recognized the importance of education at many levels,” Kirwin said in the statement, “and The College of Saint Rose has been especially fortunate to experience his generosity and his tireless commitment to the values that we shared.”
Charles Touhey added that his father also supported the Capital Region Youth Tennis Foundation’s 15 Love program, which offers tennis lessons throughout the area with emphasis on the inner cities of Albany, Troy and Schenectady. And he contributed to Capital District Sponsor-A-Scholar, which assists economically disadvantaged young men and women on the high school and college levels.
“He did big and small philanthropy. It wasn’t just limited to the big ticket ones,” Touhey said.
Touhey said he thinks his father would have wanted to be remembered as a man who loved his community. “And tried to give back, using both his business talents and his ability to see beyond what was needed in the community,” he said.
Calling hours will be held Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the McVeigh Funeral Home, 208 North Allen St., Albany. A funeral service will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.