Our father, Jack Riley Carter, age 99, passed away on November 4, 2023, in Grand Junction, Colorado. Dad was born in Fresno, California on March 31, 1924, to Elwyn Riley and Nellie Mae Carter.
Dad grew up in Exchequer, California. He spent an idyllic childhood roaming the California foothills, fishing in the reservoir and streams, and riding his pony. His parents encouraged him in his boyhood adventures. One day his father suggested he go camping with just his pony and dog, Jerry. So Dad headed out on his pony, along with his dog to camp several miles from home. As he lay on his bedroll tucked between his animal companions, he looked up at the night sky and was awed by the sight of a flock of geese crossing in front of a full moon. Thus began a lifelong love of nature and the outdoors. Dad attended a one room school through eighth grade when he left home to board with Jerry Witt (who became a lifelong friend) and his family for his high school years at Merced Union High School where he played the cornet and was a member of the football team. During summers Dad worked driving a supply truck in Yosemite Park. Shortly after graduating from high school, Dad registered for the World War II draft.
Dad attended Brigham Young University for his freshman year and while there he met Melba Beckman at a Mat Dance. They were soon inseparable, and they promised to write when Dad left for the war. He spent three years in the Pacific Theater with the Combat Engineers 55th Battalion attached to the 81st Infantry Division. At the end of the war Dad participated in the occupation of Japan. When he returned home, he married Melba and transferred to Utah State University. When it was time to register for classes, Dad decided to get into the shortest line which happened to be the line for engineering. Had other lines been shorter, it’s possible he would’ve ended up becoming something else entirely! As it turned out, engineering with a specialty in hydrology was a perfect fit for Dad. It mirrored his childhood experiences of traipsing through streams and lakes in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
After graduation Dad worked for over thirty years for the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division. His assignments took the Carter family from Roosevelt and Vernal, Utah, on to Statesville, North Carolina, Washington DC, Casper, then Cheyenne, Wyoming, Lawrence, Kansas, and Denver, Colorado where Dad retired from the Survey. Dad then began a second career as a consulting engineer for Wright Water in Denver. A third job took him to Colorado’s Western Slope for semi-retirement while doing seasonal work as water commissioner on Kannah Creek in Mesa County, Colorado.
Our father had many interests and hobbies. Dad and Mom traveled, at times in their small RV, up the Al-Can Highway as far north as the road would take them, down through Mexico, and across Canada. They were fearless travelers, heading off without cell phones to the consternation of their daughters. Our parents loved spending time in nature, hiking and camping in the Colorado Mountains. Dad enjoyed hunting, fishing, golfing, and skiing. He was an avid reader who especially enjoyed history and biographies. And he always kept up with current events, the news, and politics. Dad had a wonderful, satisfying life and his daughters feel privileged to have had his influence in our lives.
Dad is survived by a sister, Carolyn Forrest, and us daughters: Christine Averill (Allen), Evelyn Carter, Roberta Shortridge, Cecily Woodbury, and Lisa Lewis (David). In addition, 15 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren, and 5 great-great grandchildren survive.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary, 495 S. State St, Orem, Utah. Interment will be Monday, Nov. 14 at 2:00 p.m. in Orem City Cemetery.
Condolences for the family may be expressed on this page.
Carter, Jack Services(After conversion).mp3