The former Moab Postmaster Eugene Russell Carter died Saturday morning, Feb. 21, at Allen Memorial Hospital. He was born in Kenton, Okla. to Charles Fletcher Carter and Annie Pearl Hood Carter. He was the third of four sons.
His family moved west into Colorado and later into northern Grand County. The boys all remember going to school in the one-room school house in Cisco, Utah. He worked for the Turner Cunningham Ranch on the Book Cliffs during high school and graduated in Grand Junction, Colo.
The Carter family moved to Moab, where Russ’s dad Charles worked in the Moab Garage and the Thompson Garage.
Russ worked for J. W. Corbin at Midland Telephone. He was an installer, built lines and repaired lines all over southeastern Utah and into western Colorado. It was while working for the Corbins that that he met Miss Helen Louise Corbin. He later joined the Navy in 1936. He was stationed in the Philippines and served in the Pacific all through the war as a chief pharmacist mate.
He and Helen were married June 22, 1942 in New Orleans, La. He was stationed there while his ship was being built in Texas. Helen came home to live while he was shipped out and worked as a registered nurse here in Moab. His oldest son, John Russell (J.R.) was born while he was overseas.
When he came home he was stationed in Glenwood Springs for a while before being honorably discharged. The family moved back to Moab and began their life together here, Russ again went back to work for Midland Telephone Company. He spent lots of time traveling with the line crew trying to keep communications open here in southern Utah. If there was an outage they would start traveling the lines until they found the trouble. Sometimes they would have to camp out along the lines. His brother Charlie tells of some of those campouts and the long talks into the night.
In 1946, Russ and Helen had a set of twin boys. Gerald and George, they were early and there were complications. Gerald only lived one day. Then, in 1949, they completed their family with the birth of their daughter, Ann.
Russ was appointed Moab’s Postmaster in 1952 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, taking over from Elaine Peterson. It was a small, quiet town then and the postal customers were served through a single window. Later the post office moved to the west side of the 100 block on Main. They put in boxes for the first time. After the uranium boom of the mid 1950s the post office moved again to the west side of South Main and became a First Class post office with annual receipts of over $40,000. Gene Gibson joined the staff as assistant postmaster and they became a regular sight as they went for their morning coffee breaks. Russ saw the move to the present site of the post office and retired in 1973.
He was very involved in the community. He was in the Lions Club; he served as Exalted Ruler of the Elks, on many rodeo committees and umpired many a baseball game. He was on the Moab Museum board, a charter member of the Moab Golf and Country Club, and he also was a projectionist for the movie theaters here and in Monticello. Russ graduated as a Sound Motion Picture Technician while in the Navy. He and his brother in-law Bud Corbin built the drive-in theater in Monticello. He appeared in the shows that the Lions Club used to present for the community. He even refereed boxing matches here and in Monticello. He was a member of the American Legion and helped out with many of their services.
After his retirement he and Helen took at trip back East in their pickup truck with a camper shell, a grub box and a propane stove. His grandparents came from Arkansas and through Missouri during the early years of the Civil War before moving to Oklahoma. Russ and Helen sort of reversed the trip as modern day pioneers.
Russ and Helen spent a lot of time helping her parents with their place in the Carefree area of Arizona. They called it Corbinville, population five. They also worked very hard on their cabin in the La Sal mountains. They enjoyed their time there with their family. They moved to Fruita, Colo. for a short time to help their son J.R. with his ranch.
He was Papa Russ to his eight grandchildren. He would patiently tell them stories and just spend time with each of them. Sometimes the stories got a little tall. Like the time he told them that the Easter Bunny would not be coming for Easter because Santa had shot him and ate him for Thanksgiving. He gave all kids of nicknames. The first question he asked each of them was, “Where’s your nose?” His great-grandchildren all got to see their Papa Russ.
After Helen died in 2005, Russ started to grow a beard. It grew and grew and grew. It could be that it was his way of getting back at her because when he got out of the Navy he was sporting a fine mustache. She would not kiss him until he shaved.
He was a quiet example of a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.
He wrote poetry and prayed with a personal knowledge of his Savior Jesus Christ. He was a member of the Community Church and worked hard on the building it now occupies.
He threw his rope true, dug his holes deep and his ditches straight. He was loyal to his family and friends and loved his country.
Russ is survived by three of his children, John Russell “J.R.” (Char) Carter of Oklahoma, George Byron (Ann) Carter of Moab, and Elizabeth Ann (Rob Christopher) Carter of Moab. He is also survived by grandchildren, Lisa (Ronnie) Pierce, Jennifer (Travis) Ward, Shayne (Beth) Carter, Helene (Jick) Taylor, Christopher (Jamie) Carter, Becky Bonifacio, Margo (Mike) Reilly and children and Drew (Jolene) Hoppe and children, the daughter and son of Char Carter. He is survived by great-grandchildren, Chance Carter, Jalen Miller, Anna and Dayday Ward, Kyler Bernal, Casey Shupe, Cameron Taylor, Toby Carter, Corbin Bonifacio, Lydia Taylor, Ty Carter, Keadan Bonifacio, Charley Carter, Kody Carter and his brother Charles Fletcher (Martha) Carter of Washington, Bud Corbin of Monticello and Dorothy Corbin Clark of Draper, Utah.
He is preceded in death by his parents, wife Helen, son Gerald Allen, and brothers Bob and Cleo Carter.
Services were held Feb. 25 at 10:30 a.m. at Community Church of Moab. Arrangements were by Kimmerle-Hefner Funeral Home.