James S. Carey's career in chemical engineering began at Lehigh where the Harrisburg native studied with Henry M. Ullmann. The 1923 Epitome described "Big Jim," a brother of Delta Tau Delta, as "always a friend, ready to serve, slow to anger and ever loyal." From Lehigh, Carey went to Penn State where he taught engineering and earned a master's degree in 1927. Continuing his advanced studies, he earned a Sc.D. from M.I.T. in 1930.
His career in engineering research took him to the M.W. Kellog Company and to the Alco Products division of the American Locomotive Corporation. Carey moved to the Badger Company, designers and constructors of chemical and petroleum process units, where he developed advanced catalytic processes, published several books on his work, and became a vice president of the company. After the company was absorbed by Raytheon Corporation, he became a director before he retired in 1964. From their retirement home in Deerfield, Florida, Cary and his wife, Jane, remained active supporters of Lehigh until their deaths.
The Careys' careful estate plans provided unrestricted gifts to Lehigh's endowment.