William “Billy” “Bill” “Dad” “Doc” Carter — His Life Story
Chapter 1: William Carroll Carter was born Dec. 22, 1942, in Spokane, Washington, the son of Felix Grundy and Agnes (Paulson) Carter. Billy was raised in Thompson Falls, Montana and graduated from Thompson Falls High School in 1962. He worked at the local drug store and earned money to cover costs such as clothing, food and dental care. Throughout his life, he maintained a deep appreciation for the friends, mentors and classmates he met during this time. He had fond memories of swimming in the Thompson River.
Chapter 2: In 1967, Bill graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. To pay his tuition, he held several jobs while in college, including working in a funeral home and later assisting a family with a disabled son for whom he became a “big brother.” He often reminisced fondly about his various jobs. He had a deep appreciation for the people who supported and believed in him and the life lessons they taught him.
Chapter 3: Following graduation, Bill was accepted into the United States Peace Corps in the British West Indies. He taught science and worked with local populations to promote understanding among various cultures. He spearheaded the building of a children’s playground, a first for the local children. During his time in the Peace Corps, he dated another Peace Corps Volunteer, Diane Huntley, from Maine. At the end of their service, Bill and Diane went their separate ways. They liked each other, but not enough to marry … so they thought.
Chapter 4: Following the Peace Corps, Bill returned to the University of Montana and earned a Master of Arts Degree. During spring vacation, he was visited by Diane, who was completing a Master of Education program at the University of Maine. During her visit, Bill — declaring no one else would ever want to marry either of them — proposed marriage on April Fool’s Day. Diane, agreeing that no one else would ever want them, took him up on his proposal. Diane and Bill thought they would try marriage for six months or so to see if it would work out. Following graduation, Bill flew back to Maine where he and Diane were married Aug. 17, 1970. They loaded Diane’s ’64 Ford and drove west — destination, Aberdeen, Washington, where he had a contract to teach at Weatherwax High School. This was the beginning of 42 years of teaching high school for the Aberdeen School District.
Chapter 5: Bill and Diane settled into their new life in a run-down rental just off Arnold Hill. A few years later, another tenant would complain there was a hole in the living room floor large enough for a child to fall through. Diane and Bill knew about the hole, but, true to their thrifty Peace Corps training, they had simply positioned the couch over it.
Two houses and three children followed. Bill was present for all births, a rarity in the early ’70s. He did say, however, when the second pregnancy resulted in twins, if his children were going to come in litters, it was time to stop.
Bill truly enjoyed the role of being a Dad to Adrianna, Sabrina and Benjamin. He enjoyed building things for his children, beginning with a cradle and matching changing table. He later built a doll house that was a replica of the home they lived in and a large playhouse for their yard. He enjoyed taking his children to the beach, crabbing and riding the go-carts when they were young. He taught them to garden and establish fish aquariums. He loved decorating for Christmas. As his children grew, he maintained a variety of special family traditions his children have carried into their adult lives. Bill was a very thoughtful and caring Dad.
Chapter 6: In the mid 1980s Bill was accepted to study at Seattle University where he completed a Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 1989. During the time he was pursing his Doctorate, he suffered a stroke. Although affected by the stroke for the rest of his life, a man of resilience and determination, he was dedicated to his recovery and graduated on schedule at the top of his class. He thanked his family for their support by taking them to a dinner at the Space Needle in Seattle where he gave each of them a special gift during dinner to show his appreciation.
Chapter 7: Teaching English was a joy for “Doc Carter.” He arranged student chairs in a circle and sat with his students. He was known for beginning his classes with the “Question of the Day.” A thought-provoking question was posed, each student was expected to reply, and all replies were to be respected. His intent was to invite all students into a discussion, allow all voices to be heard, and to offer a platform for students to build on each other’s thinking and to understand differing perspectives. Throughout his career, he was guided by the Socratic Method of Teaching that promoted open dialogue and critical thinking in his classrooms.
In addition to teaching English, his contributions included heading the high school Speech and Debate program, serving as Honors Society Advisor and teaching elective courses such as “Leadership.” He also taught Advance Placement courses as well as “College in the High School” for the University of Washington.
In January of 2002, Doc stood in the crowd of onlookers and watched flames race through the historic Weatherwax High School building. His classroom was one of the last to burn. Months later, unwilling to give up on the work of 32 years of teaching, he borrowed a ladder and surreptitiously climbed to the remains of his classroom on the third floor of the burned-out building. His classroom was open to the sky and the tops were burned off the student desks, but his files, packed tightly into metal cabinets, were charred only around the edges. He was able to retrieve much of his work, along with treasured family photos. He also found a handful of National Honor Society pins, which he later awarded to students. Any student who received a pin after the school burned may have one that survived the Weatherwax fire.
Chapter 8: When Doc retired in 2012, he estimated he had taught at least 5,922 students, climbed more than 310,000 steps to his classrooms and received 504 paychecks. He wrote in his retirement letter, “The years in Aberdeen have passed rapidly, primarily because I have a deep respect for education and students.” Those feelings have been reciprocated by former students and colleagues over the years, as many people have described Doc as a man who inspired, mentored, challenged, believed in, listened to and guided others.
Chapter 9: As he settled into retirement, Doc took his appreciation for the Socratic Method to Facebook where he hosted a variety of opinions, especially during this time of political stress and disagreement. He promoted civility, and his most used questions included. “Why, What, Where, When, and How?”
During his career, he served on the Grays Harbor County TAPPP Advisory Council, The Daily World Advisory Board, and the Literary Cavalcade Advisory Board, a New York based literary publication. He enjoyed being a member of the Retired Teachers Association, the Benevolent Order of Elks and MENSA. He was a Friend of the Library, participated in Rainy Day Reader Review and spent hours evaluating student scholarship applications for the Bishop Foundation. He enjoyed coffee with friends, gardening, reading and watching a good movie each evening.
Chapter 10: Doc lived his final chapter in the fall of 2021 and finished proofreading it at Providence Saint Peter Hospital in Olympia on Nov. 21, 2021. His wife and all three children were able to be with him. He had great hair and retained his spectacular eyebrows to the end.
Dr. William C. Carter was preceded in death by his parents; a stepmother, Edna; and a half-brother, Michael. He is survived by Diane, his wife of 51 years; three children: Adrianna (Scott) Shaw, Sabrina Carter and Benjamin Carter; grandchildren Aidan and Lucy Shaw; and his sisters, Darlene Greenawalt and her partner, Norma Whitacre, and another sister, Gwen. — Oh, yes, and his beloved dog, Socrates, generally called “Socky,” who was carefully babysat by Darlene and Norma as Doc closed his book.
There will be a time of visitation and viewing on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at Fern Hill Funeral Home’s Chapel in Aberdeen from noon to 8 p.m.
A celebration of life will be held at the Aberdeen High School Auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m. Private family burial will have taken place at Fern Hill Cemetery, Aberdeen, Washington.
A message of condolence or of a memory can be sent to the family at www.fernhillfuneral.com
Arrangements are entrusted to Twibell’s Fern Hill Funeral Home in Aberdeen, WA.