John Walter Carey was born February 22, 1877 in Galena, Illinois, the son of Edward and Julia A. Mahony Carey. He attended Sioux City High School. He married Geraldine Burns on June 22, 1909, with whom he had three children (John, Mary Louise [Mrs. James K. Herbert], and Anne [Mrs. Norton Spayde]). From 1896-1902 he was a reporter at the Sioux City Journal and from 1902 -1909 he was city editor at this same journal. It was during this time that he wrote "Interviews That Never Happened" which were illustrated by fledgling cartoonist Jay N. Ding Darling. From 1912-1914, he ran a daily syndicate for the Associated Newspapers of New York City, "Hoo's Hoo Today" illustrated on alternate days by R. L. Ripley, Darling, and H.T. Webster. From 1909-1913 he was partner and managing editor of the Sioux City Daily News, but in 1914 he returned to the Sioux City Journal as an editorial writer where he remained for two years before leaving in 1916 to become owner and editor of the Rock Rapids Review for ten years. In 1927 he went back to work for the Sioux City Journal, this time as a columnist, writing "The Rear Seat." Apparently sometimes when he mentioned a famous person in the column, he would mail a copy of the column to the celebrity. This generated some responses and many of the letters in this collection are probably responses to these columns, though usually the column is not included in the collection. In 1932 he became managing editor of the Sioux City Journal.
Carey also wrote poetry and was published in Colliers and other magazines. He was active in the community and was a member of the Sioux City Boat Club, the Knights of Columbus, and the Catholic church. According to his obituary, ". . . Mr. Carey was especially interested in groups organized for helping the less fortunate. He was or had been on the board of the Family Welfare Bureau, the Salvation Army, Community Fund, and Chamber of Commerce." He served as President of the Iowa Press Association in 1928, and in 1932 Governor Clyde Herring appointed him to a commission to formulate a plan for Iowa liquor stores. He was known for his humorous speaking abilities and was a popular dinner speaker. From his obituary: "Mr. Carey was known as a man of many abilities. In addition to being an editor he was much in demand as a public speaker and presided at many dinners and banquets of various groups and at conventions as toastmaster. His humorous stories and ready wit came easily and naturally, even in private conversation." True to his journalistic roots, he had written his own obituary, which was included in the obituary noted above, which he did not write.
Carey died of coronary heart disease on Christmas day 1945. The day before his death he had worked as usual at the newspaper office.