Editorial: Don Carter focused on the living
A celebration of life. Thatís what all funerals should be, and none more so than the funeral on Friday of Don Carter of Summersett Funeral Home. The man always in the background quietly making everything run smoothly was for once the focus, and it was a bittersweet moment.
Who takes care of the funeral directorís family? The Rev. Julie E. OíNeal, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church, shared words written by Carterís grandson, Staton Summersett Carter. Staton is an adult, but he continued to learn at his grandfatherís knee as they worked side by side at the funeral home, along with Summie, Statonís father, and Kristen Carter Barber, Statonís sister.
It says a lot about a man when his son and grandchildren not only need to work with him every day, they want to.
Who takes care of the funeral directorís family, a family like that? The question has come up a lot since Don died Monday at the age of 88, after an extended illness. Who takes care of a family whose members have for generations guided so many through the process of dealing with death? The answer, according to Staton, is simple. The family, including the caring staff at Summersett, takes care of the family.
The Rev. Stephen D. Haines, senior pastor, read as his text the genealogy at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. So-and-so was the father of so-and-so ó the passage most of us skip over. Don Carter seemed to know the entire genealogy of Salisbury and Rowan County. And thereís no denying we lost a lot of history with his passing.
But he shared it with his family, teaching Staton that a grandfatherís long stories can and do have a point ó usually leading to the person he had just met.
Don led by example, showing genuine care for every person, keeping meticulous records and wearing the ever-present dark suit. This man slept in his suit, sometimes even at work, according to Staton. The suit itself was not as important as what it said; Don was always ready for work, always professional.
Son Summie probably said it best earlier this week in describing his father as a people person ó a walking history and a people person. He quietly put people at ease and helped them find their way. After all, he knew where they came from. Many among us would like to repay some of the kindness and grace Don Carter showed us through the years. As his pastor said, we didnít realize what a precious gift we were holding in our hands.