Dr. K. Nolon Carter, Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, died on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020 He was 95.
Dr. Carter joined the PC faculty in 1951 and retired in 1987, after 36 years of teaching at PC. One of the first two professors to receive a named chair, Dr. Carter was named the Dana Professor of Chemistry in 1970.
He served many years of his tenure as chair of the Department of Chemistry. While he taught many chemistry courses, Dr. Carter was most known for his organic chemistry course. Students who wanted to go to medical school were required to make at least a B to be considered for medical school.
Many of Dr. Carter’s students continued their relationship with him after they entered medical professions. This lasting influence showed how well Dr. Carter prepared students for the rigors of medical training.
“Outside the U.S. Army and some part-time work, Dr. Nolon Carter was my first real boss,” said Dr. Ed Gouge, Charles E. Daniel Professor Emeritus of Chemistry.
“As an inexperienced assistant professor fresh out of graduate school, I quickly became Nolon’s student. Strict, fair, precise, and interested in me, he contributed in a major way to my development as a college-level teacher.
“This caring mentor, talented chemist, teacher, friend, and man of integrity was largely responsible for my satisfying career as a PC faculty member.”
In addition to his teaching, Dr. Carter was active in research work, received several research grants, and published the results of his research in a number of professional publications.
Dr. Carter introduced modern instrumentation into PC’s undergraduate chemistry laboratory, with special emphasis on spectroscopy. He also produced a number of single-concept instructional motion pictures which were made available nationally by the Advisory Council on College Chemistry.
In 1973, Dr. Carter was awarded the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. The award recognized classroom teaching skill reflecting both scholarship and concern for the individual student.
Dr. Carter shared with his wife, Eugenia G. Carter, the 1986 Board of Visitors Outstanding Service Award. Mrs. Carter was a versatile and respected teacher who taught science to PC students in full- and part-time positions.
In 1987, Dr. Carter completed 36 years as professor of chemistry and department chairman. When he retired, the couple’s former students recognized the contributions of the Carters to the life of PC by establishing the Carter Endowment Fund.
The income from the Carter Fund is used to purchase equipment for the chemistry department. The fund has helped provide needed equipment to the chemistry department and for PC students for the past 33 years. Dr. Carter is credited with introducing sophisticated instrumentation for which the College’s undergraduate laboratory instruction is now noted.
“Dr. Carter cared deeply about PC,” said PC President Bob Staton. “Even after he retired from teaching, he always checked on how things were going and was encouraging and supportive of the work underway at PC.
“While he lived a long and active life, the impact of Dr. Carter’s life will live on in the lives he touched and shaped during his years at PC. He will be missed but not forgotten.”
Dr. Carter was a faithful donor to PC, having been a yearly donor from the time he came to PC until the time of his death.
As many PC professors and alumni may remember, the Carters lived in a little white house on Fifth Avenue behind the Old Bailey Stadium area. They were known for riding their bicycles to and from campus almost every day.
They were also known for their love of tennis. Mrs. Carter played with a group of women from Clinton against opponents from other areas in competitive matches. Dr. Carter was also known for his love of flying. He continued to fly planes, as well as ride his bicycle until a couple of years ago.
The Carters moved to Missouri to be near their son in 2003, after having lived in Clinton since 1951.
Dr. Carter was born October 2, 1925, in Columbia, SC, son of Kenneth Nolon Carter and Bessie Fowler Carter. He spent most of his childhood growing up in Due West, SC. As a young man of 17 during World War II, he signed up for military service in the United States Army Air Corps. Beginning active duty in the cadet program at 18, he was training to be a fighter pilot when the war ended. Returning to college, he graduated from Erskine College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a strong concentration in chemistry. He then attended Vanderbilt University, earning his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1951. He taught chemistry at Presbyterian College (PC) in Clinton, SC, from 1951 until his retirement in 1987, much of that time as chair of the department. In 1973, he was awarded the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, reflecting both scholarship and concern for the individual student. The program at PC was especially known for its modern instrumentation and success in preparing future physicians. Several years into his time at PC, he was invited to come teach the summer organic chemistry course at Vanderbilt University, which he did for several summers.
One of the greatest blessings of his life occurred on July 7, 1954, when he married his wife Eugenia. They were spouses, friends, parents, fellow Christians, and dedicated colleagues in teaching science at PC. They were 100% supportive of each other, and their relationship blessed their family, friends, neighbors, and students. In 1986, they shared the Presbyterian College Board of Visitors Outstanding Service Award. Both of them enjoyed riding bicycles and playing tennis, and they played racquetball together in the mornings well into their retirement years. Nolon Carter had an abiding gratitude for his wonderful mother and his wonderful wife. Eugenia told son Kenneth many happy things, including that she had the best mother-in-law anyone could have had, and that she considered herself never to have met a man with more integrity than her husband Nolon, though there was perhaps one tie and of course many honorable mentions.
After retirement, Dr. Carter continued his research, and in 1995 was corresponding author on a paper, coauthored with his son, that was published in the Journal of Chemical Education. Also, subsequent to retirement, with his wife’s encouragement, he resumed flying lessons, becoming a private pilot more than 40 years after his first lessons with Uncle Sam. He flew as pilot in command of his Cessna 150, N5276Q, into his early 90s, short of his 93rd birthday. A happy event of summer 2020 was being taken up in the Cessna by his grandson Nolon, who had earned his license in his grandfather’s plane. They flew wearing masks, and with the windows open! Always safety conscious, Dr. Carter served for several years on the Laurens County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), before moving to Missouri.
Dr. Carter was a faithful member of Providence Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Clinton, where he was ordained as an elder and served for many years as clerk of the session. In 2003, he and his wife moved to Kirksville, where their son was teaching chemistry at Truman State University. In Kirksville, he was a regular attender at Grace Community Bible Church.
Nolon and Eugenia were avid readers who enjoyed a broad range, including local and regional newspapers, periodicals, the mysteries of Dorothy Sayers and G.K. Chesterton, the theological works of C.S. Lewis, and the humor of P.G. Wodehouse.
Dr. Carter’s wife died on Epiphany in 2008. He stayed in Kirksville in order to be active as father and grandfather to his beloved family. He is survived by his son Dr. Kenneth N. Carter, Jr., his grandchildren, Nolon Donald Carter and Rosemarie Eugenia Carter, of Kirksville, extended family, long-time friends Mrs. Brenda Stewart and Dr. and Mrs. Harold Hope in the Carolinas, esteemed former students and colleagues, fellow Associate Reformed Presbyterians, friends old and new, and his faithful cat Phi.
Respecting Dr. Carter’s wishes, memorial and committal services are being deferred until such time as the COVID-19 vaccinations have become widely available. COVID-19, acquired in a medical/health-care setting despite the best efforts of all concerned, ended his mortal days. Earlier in the evening of his passing, his son and grandchildren were able to sing him Christmas carols. All too many, though, have died without the touch or voices of family nearby. Well known for his concern for safety and for the well being of others, it was his strong desire to limit COVID’s further toll. He had a long and blessed life, and he wanted others to share in similar blessing.
A graveside service will be 10:00AM Saturday, March 12, 2022 in the Due West ARP Church Cemetery. A memorial service to celebrate his life will follow at 3:00PM on Saturday at Providence Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials be made to the Nolon and Eugenia Carter Endowment at Presbyterian College, 503 South Broad Street, Clinton, SC 29325, the Eugenia Gurney Carter Scholarship fund at Erskine College, PO Box 338, Due West, SC 29639, or the Providence ARP Church, 701 S. Broad Street, Clinton, SC 29325.