Sarah Graham Carter
November 2nd, 1928 - March 12th, 2018
Sarah Alice Graham Carter was born November 2, 1928 in Lawrence County, AL, the first child of Ralph Emerson Graham, a Methodist minister and schoolteacher, and his wife, Annie Elsie (Zimmerman), a registered nurse. Eleven siblings followed.
In her youth, Sarah kept busy, attending school, helping her parents with their growing family, assisting her beloved aunt, Mamie Graham Aycock, in the operation of her general store in Mountain Home, AL, and teaching her siblings how to pick cotton. Later in life, Sarah fondly recalled how much fun this “hard work” was. These endeavors at such a young age instilled in Sarah a deep love for and a fierce pride in her family.
Taking art lessons, Sara exhibited an impressive ability in watercolors, pastels and oils, and her youthful artworks adorn the homes of family members.
Sarah later attended her father’s alma mater, Florence State Teachers College. Here, her diligence in the pursuit of knowledge was matched by her enjoyment of college social life. Sarah loved meeting people, her outgoing personality winning her the title “Miss Friendliness” in her junior year.
Earning her bachelor’s degree, she began teaching high school in Mount Hope, AL. One weekend her brother Sam brought a friend, Edward L. Carter, Jr., home to go rabbit hunting. After meeting Sarah, Ed quickly lost interest in hunting, or, as Sarah’s mother recalled, “Ed caught the wrong rabbit.” Falling in love, they married and had four children.
Sarah left teaching, becoming a full-time mother until her youngest child was three. The family then moved to Florence, where Sarah returned to teaching, first at Sheffield Junior High School, then at Forest Hills School, where she taught 7th and 8th grade math until retiring. While teaching and meeting motherhood’s demands, Sarah earned her master’s degree from Florence State College, later returning to obtain an Ed.S. degree from the University of North Alabama.
Having a knack for getting her students’ attention, Sarah loved teaching, especially when she could instill her excitement for math into the young minds in her care. Former students recall how she changed their lives and made math come alive. Known for her strength, Sarah engaged students, male and female, in after-school arm wrestling matches, which she always won!
Sarah loved God and was a devoted member of Florence First United Methodist Church, a second home for the Carter family.
After retiring, Sarah continued to live life fully, becoming a regular letter writer to the Times Daily. She also wrote personalized cards for loved ones on birthdays and holidays, often adorning them with photos and art work, including drawings of beloved pets. Having traveled extensively in the U.S. earlier in life, she and Ed now journeyed to such destinations as Great Britain, the Holy Land and Japan, where their son Oliver lived. They also enjoyed dances with the Circle 8 Square Dance Club.
Throughout her life, Sarah was intimately involved with family, church and community, which brought her great satisfaction and joy.
On March 12, 2018, Sarah peacefully departed this life, at home in Florence. She is survived by siblings: Ronald (Mary), Marcellus (Denise), Sam (Doyle), Ben (Kathy), Bill (Ruth), Patricia Shelton, Miriam Cuddington (Bill) and Phoebe, sisters-in-law, Mary Faye and Lila, children: Edna Carter (Charles Rose) and Mary Young (Donny), daughter-in-law, Michiko, grandchildren: Israel, Whitney, Chia, Kou, Sho, Timothy and Nicky,
great-grandchildren: Madeline and Izuki, her beloved caregivers: Brenda Skipworth, Kelly Willard and her informal daughter, Bonnie Rogers.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Ed, daughter, Dorothy Joan Carter, son, Oliver Carter, three brothers, Jack, Patrick and Maurice Graham, sister-in-law, Betty, and brother-in-law, Dr. Russell Shelton.
Please join friends and family in a celebration of Sarah’s life, Friday, March 16 at Florence First United Methodist Church. Visitation starts at 11:30am, followed by the service at 1:00pm.
Donations may be made in Sarah’s memory to Florence First United Methodist Church, the University of North Alabama, or the charity of your choice.
Service at 1:00 PM at First United Methodist Church of Florence on Friday, March 16th, 2018