Pastors' Memoirs

Thomas Eugene Carter, 1931-1996

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For many, the 29th of September 1996 brought shocking and sad news about our Lord’s good and faithful servant, Thomas Eugene Carter. Sitting on his sofa, in the handsome little house in Roanoke he loved so well, he went quietly to his rest. Having spent his life as a Methodist minister, he retired in 1994 in Roanoke where he lived and served the South Roanoke Church and the Roanoke District for 13 years.  

He possessed those gifts and graces we have come to revere in our ministers. He acquitted himself well in the pulpit; he composed and delivered beautiful and powerful prayers; he counseled with wisdom and compassion; he served his churches and districts with dignity; he effectively garnered considerable funds for his college and his churches; and most importantly he loved his Lord and his fellow man. Emerson said, "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Using this measurement, Gene’s life was successful many times over.  

Born July 29, 1931, the second of two sons to the Rev. O.B. Carter, also a lifelong Methodist minister, Gene carried in his being all the strength, joys, convictions, and also all the anxieties of that rich and disciplined heritage. Of his father, he said, "He had as great a sense of what it was to be a servant of his Lord as any person I have ever known." Those of us privileged to share Gene’s life would say the same of him. His oft quoted remark of his father’s was "Remember, son, all that you are and all that you ever hope to become you owe to the church." Gene believed that with all his being.  

His beloved wife, Dot, was a major part of his life and ministry for 24 years before she died far too young. He said, "She was probably the most normal person I ever knew and was the light of my life." He held a fierce and unending love for his sons, Scott and Blair, and did all in his power to be both mother and father to them.  

A 1953 graduate of Randolph-Macon College, Gene received the B.D. degree from Emory’s Candler School of Theology in 1956. In the ensuing 38 years, he ably served six churches and three districts of the Virginia Annual Conference. Active in the life of Randolph-Macon, he served on its board of trustees and the college honored him with a Doctor of Divinity Degree.   At his funeral, a dignified yet warm and personal service, Bishop Thomas B. Stockton said, "He was a rascal but we all loved him." His friend Doug Dillard, said he was a man equally comfortable with a millionaire or with a good ole boy. His pastor, Don Roberts, graciously shared a beautiful prayer written by Gene on the death of a friend. It is appropriate to conclude this memoir with a few lines of that prayer as our farewell to our friend.  

"O God, who strengthens us with your power and your love, hear us now as we celebrate the life of your servant, Gene Carter. In committing his soul into your care and keeping, we bless you for the grace that kindled in his heart, a love and a reverence for you. May we find comfort in the knowledge that Gene has gathered at the table where your saints feast forever in the heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

- Frank L. Eagles



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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