Timothy Neil Carter was born in London, England in 1933 and spent his childhood collecting shrapnel from German bombs that were being dropped on the city during World War II. While his parents, Arthur Bertram (Bill) and Enid Carter, tended their small tobacco shop, Tim excelled at sports, especially running, bicycle racing and rugby. His rugby club went undefeated during his stint with the team. Like many children of the war, he was sent to various locations in the English countryside to avoid the German bombing and spent a few years with only a name tag and a gas mask with no real place to call home. When the war ended, Tim returned to the city and became more dedicated to running and bicycle racing. He set records in the mile at his local sporting club and won 8 of the races he entered in one eventful year. In 1949, while racing his bicycle in the rain against his mother’s wishes, Tim was run over by a double decker bus and lost his right arm at the age of 16. Rather than become discouraged, he gained a fierce determination that would serve him well for the rest of his life. He taught himself to write with his left hand (formerly being right handed) and found a new interest in art and music, both of which were enjoying a revival after the war years.
Tim would later attend St Martin’s School of Art in London, where he earned a degree in textiles. His interest in art grew and he taught himself to paint while also becoming an accomplished trumpet player. He played with a big band in London that catered to an aristocratic crowd, but he favored jazz. Despite living quite frugally, he was able to see Louis Armstrong play in Paris while eating day-old baguettes and sleeping under a bridge at night.
In 1955, while working in London for The Prudential Company, ARAMCO gave Tim the opportunity to emigrate to the United States and he took “the leap across the pond”. Unfortunately, when he arrived in NYC, he was told that the job offer was no longer available. On the street with nothing but his suitcase and trumpet, he ended up spending some time at the YMCA on Third Avenue in NYC, not the welcome he was hoping for in America. Fortunately, Tim had made a few friends on his ocean voyage to the states, and these kind people would be instrumental in him finding work and later in meeting his future wife.
In 1958, Tim was set up on a blind date with Rita Gutzler, a German immigrant, who had her own equally compelling story of hardship, survival and determination that had brought her to America. Tim made her an exquisite set of engagement jewelry and they were married one year later in 1959. They would be together for the next 58 years, living the American dream.
Tim and Rita would spend their first years together traveling the country for Tim’s work as an auditor. Many a small town was intrigued by this odd couple: an Englishman and a German Lady, that were fashionable, creative and always driving a stunning sports car.
Tim’s creative bent would not be stifled by his job as an auditor and his passion became his career when he was given the chance to design a lighting showroom for a small company in Georgia. He would go on to enjoy an incredibly diverse career that spanned all facets of design, never shying away from a challenge in a discipline he had not previously worked in. Tim opened his own architectural and design firm, which his son continues to operate today. Tim designed everything from residential homes, commercial buildings, physicians’ offices’, to museums, showrooms, and historical exhibits. He wrote annual reports and magazine articles, created fashion advertising, developed multi-media slideshows, coordinated department store displays and decorated for fundraising galas. Into every one of these he put his all, giving more than he ever received in return, for the love of the challenge and the pure excitement of the creative process.
That creative process revealed itself in over 35 unique homes that Tim and Rita lived in over the course of their marriage. They shared a love of the new while hanging on to a wide assortment of decorative artifacts collected over the years. Whether a new-build or a renovation, each home was a testament to their personality and filled the senses with Tim’s sculpture and photography or the smell of Rita’s sumptuous meals prepared with her extensive wooden spoon collection. They always succeeded in transforming their homes’ landscape with manicured gardens and forests cleaned of fallen limbs (often by his children on national holidays!).
Tim was obsessively observant and curious to a fault. He loved all aspects of art and design and although often overwhelmed with work, he found time to make art, sculpture, jewelry and even notorious Halloween costumes for his children in his spare time. He would rearrange the rocks in the stream on his property to “tune” the sound of the water cascading over them. His appreciation of the alluring spanned from the simple joys of a cold gin & tonic to the stunning sunsets over the Avalon marshland, and the combination of the two was considered a triumph. He worked hard and long and his passion was matched by a work ethic that inspired others to do their best. Tim never demanded of others what he was not willing to do himself, and never let the fact that he had one arm diminish or hinder what he could accomplish. He was a shining example of the possible.
As a father, Tim inspired a love of learning and a curiosity about the world in his children that they would forever treasure. He stressed the importance of family and of taking care of one another. He was driven to provide a life of opportunity for his children and gave them the benefits of a safe, comfortable, educated and cultured childhood that he did not always have. Tim shared his interest in sailing, nature, travel, car racing, art, music and books with them with varied degrees of success - sailing being one example where his passion outweighed his skill. He taught them to be empathetic and loving, and that respect was to be given to any man that was willing to do a hard days labor. He inspired by living the American dream and we are better for it.
Timothy N. Carter passed away in the arms of his family on July 25, 2018. Tim is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Rita, and two children, Germaine (Rick) McKenna and Oliver (LaDana) Carter, and sister, Susan (Philip) Blakemore. “Gramps” is further survived by his four grandchildren Cole (Lauren) McKenna, Hailey McKenna, Hugh Carter and Hutton Carter.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Tim’s name may be sent to the Chadds Ford Historical Society, www.chaddsfordhistory.org.