Richard C. Carter, 87, of Apple Street, the husband of the late Patricia C. (Gabry) Carter, died Sunday, November 22 in his home accompanied by his family, following a debilitating illness.
Dick Carter was born in Beverly Hospital on June 14, 1933, the first boy, but the third of four children of the late Carlton M. and Edna A. (Rogers) Carter. He was a lifelong resident of Essex.
Dick was an industrious sort, following in the footsteps of his father, and worked many jobs as a young boy and teenager. When he was five years old, his dad Carl (original owner of the Village Restaurant) was a milkman for Lane Farms in Ipswich. One early morning, Carl woke up with a sore throat and so his wife Alberta called the farm saying her husband wouldn't be able to work that day. The new man assigned to the milk route didn't know all of Carl's customers, and so Dick went along with him to help, knowing each and every stop.
During high school, he often thumbed or walked home from Gloucester High after shop class because the bus didn't wait for shop students during those years. On weekends and after school, he worked as a mechanic's assistant to Hervey Burnham at his garage in the center of town. He was proud to get his Maine driver's license when he was 15, so that he could drive his father's "clam" truck to Jonesport and other north coastal Maine towns to fetch clams. Winters, after he got his Mass license at 16, Dick drove a State truck plowing snow on Route 1 and on the first segment of Route 128, which opened in 1951. He never did get snow plowing out of his system, keeping at the very least, a pickup and a plow handy to clear local area parking lots and driveways.
He graduated from Gloucester High in 1952. After high school, Dick worked for Carson Febiger's trucking company in Essex until shipping out to join the Army in April of 1953. He served in Active Duty with the Army in a MASH unit in Daegu South Korea at the 25th Station Hospital, maintaining vehicles for the motor pool.
When he came home to Essex, he fell for Patricia Gabry of West Gloucester, whom he met while she was working at Woodman's Diner on the causeway. They were married on June 3, 1956 and stayed that way for 62 years until Pat's death in 2018. They had three children, Terri, Keith and Laurel. Dick attended night school at Wentworth Institute Evening School, receiving a B.S. In Architecture when he graduated in 1969.
He gave up soldiering and trucking to be with his family (or, as some say, so he wouldn't miss a fire call) and had a long, successful career selling building supplies, first working for the (Gus) Means Lumber Company at the lumber yard in Essex, and then as manager of their location in Manchester, and later, the Building Center, selling at the stores and on the road for over 35 years. He eventually became the Director of the Gloucester Building Center on Harbor Loop.
He served as a volunteer Essex firefighter for at least 50 years, becoming the Essex Fire Chief in July of 1990 and retiring 19 years later in August of 2009. As a public servant for his town, he also served as Building Inspector, Civil Defense Director, Forest Fire Warden, Emergency Management Director and numerous town committees including the Planning Board and Board of Appeals.
Dick was a member of the Essex County Firewardens' Association, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis Club and AMVETS, and in his spare time, was an avid cribbage player. He loved smelt fishing and in 1968, had a 15-inch smelt he caught with a hand-line from an ice shack on the Essex River, taxidermied and mounted on a wall plaque that hung over the door of his TV den for years. A hilarious hoot for his friends and kids, the ornament never ceased to horrify his wife Pat.
A local news article, printed in 1953, described him this way, “His pleasing smile and cheerful manner have made him popular in Essex.”
He is survived by a son, Keith C. Carter and his wife Sheila; two daughters, Terri P. McLaughlin and her husband David, Laurel J. Nicholas and her husband Tom, all of Essex, and seven grandchildren, Kevin, Craig and Melanie Carter, Jacqueline, Victoria, Alexandra and Catherine Nicholas. Dick is predeceased by his two sisters Muriel Boutchie and Kathleen Ricci, and his brother Dana Carter, all formerly of Essex.
A private funeral service was held Wednesday, November 25 in the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home, Ipswich followed by interment with Military Honors in the Spring Street Cemetery, Essex. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to the Essex Fire Company Scholarship Fund, 24 Martin St, Essex, MA 01929. To send a condolence please visit www.whittier-porter.com