[EDITOR’S NOTE: Many of the men from the Little Rock Central High School class of 1962 will recall Harry Carter, District Director of Athletics while our class attended. Mr. Carter had his offices just inside Quigley Stadium and parked his classic Cadillac in the drive adjacent to the practice field. He knew many of the district athletes by name and was familiar with each’s achievements. A straightforward administrator and kind friend to many. –Michael Snipes, ed.]
Harry W. Carter, age 93 years, passed away at his home in Benton, AR May 30, 2014. He was born in Little Rock on January 22, 1921 to James R. and Christine S. Carter. He is predeceased by his father and step-mother, Ruth C. Carter and mother and step-father, Juniel C. Taylor, as well as his maternal grandmother who helped raise him and whose picture he carried in his wallet until his death, Mary E. Sherry. Harry married Bobbie Ruth Duckworth on January 4, 1946. When Ruth became ill, he cared for her until he was physically unable and lost her on May 23, 2009, after 63 years of marriage. He is survived by a son, Harry Michael Carter (Cathy) of Marion, IN and a daughter Sherry Carter Faulkner of Benton, AR. He is also survived by a sister-in-law, Ida Lou Bradford of Knoxville, TN and brother-in-law Jack Duckworth (Gloria) of Heber Springs, AR.
He has two granddaughters, two step-granddaughters, and one step-grandson; Sarah Carter Lane (Stephen) of Little Rock, Emily Carter of Little Rock, Mary Shannon Romanko (Paul) of Agawam, MA, Ashli Mashburn (Ray) of Texarkana, AR, and Kevin Messick (Sandy) of Benton, AR. In addition he has two nephews and a niece; Brock Duckworth (Debbie) of Dallas TX, Bruce Morgan (Terry) of Knoxville, TN, De Ann Crawford (David) of Norcross GA, and two great-granddaughters and two step-great-grandsons.
Harry was educated in the Little Rock Public Schools graduating from Central High School and attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. His education was interrupted by war. Harry was a decorated veteran achieving sergeant rank in Army 37th Infantry Division known as Ohio Buckeye Division in the South Pacific theatre during World War II. Upon honorable discharge Harry returned to Arkansas married Ruth and continued his education at the University. His leadership skills from the military set the course for the rest of his life. He was elected President of Associated Students, and Company Commander of Headquarters Company at the UofA ROTC program.
Harry played football for the University and played at the 1947 Cotton Bowl where the score ended in a 0-0 tie earning him admission to the "A" club. Harry and a fellow veteran approached Coach John H. Barnhill for permission to build a baseball field at the old fair grounds in Fayetteville.With Coach Barnhill's approval, several veterans and students began clearing the rocks and leveling the ground, finally creating the first baseball field for the UofA although there was no official baseball program. After a few victories against local teams, Coach Barnhill found resources to buy each man a shirt so the team looked more professional. [Barnhill was cut from the same cloth as Carter–ed]
Upon graduation with a Master's of Education, Harry and Ruth returned to Little Rock where Harry gained employment with the Little Rock Public Schools eventually becoming Athletic Director of the school district. Harry built the baseball fields at McArthur Park during this time and organized the summer baseball city leagues. The
true patriot he was, Harry joined the Arkansas Air National Guard and continued to serve his country until retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
An act of fate placed Harry in Little Rock the fall of 1957 when the order from the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower called for the opening of Central High to integration. All other public school employees with complete key access were out of town and only Harry could be located. He was the person who opened the doors allowing the troops into buildings and on the campus. This information eventually leaked to the public resulting in death and kidnapping threats to Harry and his family. A vigilance of protection by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and law enforcement was established to protect the children and after a couple of years the threats ceased without the children realizing what had occurred.
A tear gas attack on a Little Rock School Board meeting one evening once again gave Harry the opportunity to show his leadership by directing evacuation and assisting other members to safety. He was asked by several teachers to run for the House of Representatives with a platform of education. Harry was elected to the General Assembly in January 1961 and served the citizens of Pulaski County until retiring in 1975. His emphasis was on education, students, teachers, as well as students with social issues. He and several other legislators participated in a pre-dawn surprise visit to a state juvenile detention center which had reports of abuse. This resulted in major positive changes for the young residents.
Harry left the public schools briefly and worked for American Book Company but returned when the opportunity to be principal of Central High was offered to him. He remained at Central High for several years until when the School Board asked him to become principal of Horace Mann Junior High in 1971. Harry remained at Horace Mann until 1975 when he was offered the position of principal of Lake Hamilton High School in Hot Springs, AR. Because of his and Ruth's love of fishing and boat riding, he took the position and stayed until his retirement. Harry and Ruth continued to live in Hot Springs until Ruth's health began to fail and they relocated to Benton, AR to be closer to their daughter.
Harry was a man of honor and integrity who was not afraid to stand up for his principles. He and Ruth taught their children to be brave and compassionate. He believed in helping his fellow mankind to find solutions through education and compromise. He worshipped his granddaughters, "the girls". He loved fishing and country music especially "Why me Lord' by Kris Kristofferson. He was very fond of Papa John's all meat pizza in Benton.
The family would like to thank Dr. Patricia McGarry and her staff, Dr. Paul Baxley and his staff, and the staff at Mt. Carmel Retirement Community especially James, Starr and the kitchen staff who spoiled him. Finally, a special thank you to Teresa Brazil, CNA who assisted Harry allowing him to live independently and was able to get him to do things no one else could. The immediate family will have a private memorial. In lieu of flowers the family request donations be directed to Saline County Humane Society, P.O. Box 305, Benton, AR 72019 or "Southern Inspiration Garden" at Garvan Woodland Garden, Attention Jackie McLellan, 540 Arkridge Road, Hot Springs, AR 71913 with Southern Inspiration Garden/Carter written in the "for space". Guest register at www.grossfuneralhome.com.