Church says goodbye to pastor Rev. Carter

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Members and Friends of the First Baptist Church of Burlington will soon say their final goodbyes to their longtime pastor, Reverend Dr. Douglas Clayton Carter, who recently went to be with The Lord. The church is planning a Celebration of Life Service on Friday in his honor.

The Reverend Dr. Douglas C. Carter, preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church of Burlington, passed on Nov. 18, 2023. He was born at home on Dec. 21, 1928, in Ironton, Pastor Carter, affectionately known throughout the Tri-State, was approaching his 95th birthday with great anticipation.

The son of Willie H. Carter, of Appomattox, Virginia, and Hazel Brickey Carter, Bristol, Tennessee, Carter graduated Ironton High School in 1948, where he was known for his outstanding track and football skills, which earned him the nickname “Crazy Legs Carter” and his Big “I” varsity sweater under the revered coach Shortie Davies; he often recounted playing semi-pro football with the Ironton Bengals and told stories about Ironton’s role in the development of the National Football League.

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He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and served in Japan during the Korean War. Back stateside in 1955, he went to work with his father at the C&O Railyard in Russell, KY and later worked for over 30 years at ARMCO in Ashland, Kentucky.

While at ARMCO, he earned his colleagues’ respect and attained the position of metallurgist.

But when he answered the call to ministry in 1970, he chose a supervisory role on the janitorial crew so he could be off on Sundays.

During this time, he played baseball with American Legion Post 590 in Ironton, where he served as chaplain and was known as “Coach Carter” to the many kids in Ironton he mentored in football and baseball.

Reverend Carter continued his father’s tradition of traveling to Appomattox every year – sometimes twice; by doing so, he ensured his children knew their cultural roots and Virginia kin.

He made his last pilgrimage “down home” at age 90 to officiate a family funeral; despite the nay-sayers, he insisted he was capable. Like in all his other endeavors, Reverend Carter got the job done.

He leaves behind his beloved first cousin, Hilda – who is six months older, with whom he spent summers on their Grandpa Alvin’s farm chasing each other and riding the mule through corn and tobacco fields.

As he aged, he told stories about life as a child in Ironton, his father raising livestock in the city and earning money taking cows to pasture at what is now the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Route 141.

In early adulthood, he was an avid hunter, trekking out with his dad and brother Richard and bringing home rabbits to be skinned, buckshot removed, stewed in gravy, and eaten over rice – one of his favorite winter meals. Later in life, weeklong summer trips with the younger children to Pike Lake in Scioto County replaced winter hunting treks “up on the hill.”

As husband and father, he always liked to drive his family in a nice car; keeping his car clean was a priority, modeling the community entrepreneurs he observed during his youth. All his children learned how cars work by standing up on the car’s bumper, watching him as he tinkered about, and enjoying slopping water and helping him wash the family car on Saturdays. Quick day trips to Lake Vesuvius and Hocking Hills were complemented by extended trips to visit in-laws in Cincinnati, Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, Chattanooga, Brandywine, Maryland, and wherever the Ellis Family Reunion was being held. He loved to travel.

Douglas married his high school sweetheart, Norah June Ellis of Ironton, on Sept. 2, 1950. She was a devoted mother of four, Deborah, Bruce, Tracy, and John and she supported his ministry with her outstanding musical talent.

She served as First Lady of First Baptist Burlington until her death in April 1983. During their time at First Baptist, Carter completed his eschatological certificate at Tri-State Bible College. He rose in regional and state church leadership.

Reverend Carter said he was “blessed with two good wives,” the second being Barbara Williams Bailey, formerly of Huntington, West Virginia, with whom he shared 40 years and many global adventures.

Together, they traveled around the world – from cruising the glacial waters of Alaska, being baptized in the River Jordan, traveling on Germany’s Autobahn, walking the Great Wall of China, and returning to Yokosuka, Japan, where his son Bruce was stationed; the same airbase where he, himself, had been stationed during the Korean War.

She is a dedicated wife and mother of her own six, Tonja, Lowell, Reginald, Steven, Anthony Sherrill – “Mom B” and “Pastor Carter” blended and parented 11 children, including their beloved Kyra.

Together, they served as foster parents and volunteered at Cabell Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia. With her support, he achieved an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Faith Bible College of Anderson, South Carolina, in 2001.

In his long church-centered career, Dr. Carter was ordained at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Ironton, by the Reverend Dr. Henry C. Fletcher after serving as a church trustee and chairman of the Deacon Board. He served as moderator of the Providence Regular Missionary Baptist Association Inc., first vice president of the Ohio Baptist General Convention, delegate to the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and pastored the First Baptist Church of Burlington and her community for 43 years.

He was regularly profiled in the Huntington Herald Dispatch and The Ironton Tribune for his community service, knowledge of the region’s history, restoring historical cemeteries of African American communities, seeking racial reconciliation, and providing ministerial outreach to the imprisoned, and sick and shut-in.

Upon taking charge of shepherding the congregation at First Baptist Burlington, one of the daughters of the historic Mother Macedonia Church, he pledged to “raise a new edifice on regular tithes and offerings alone and to stay long enough to baptize the children of the children” which is precisely what he did. Additionally, Reverend Carter led the church in paying off mortgages to the old and new sanctuaries before his retirement.

As a highly-respected leader, evangelistic preacher, and teacher, he nurtured and fledged numerous new ministers into service. His legacy will remain strong, and his influence will be felt for generations.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held Friday at the First Baptist Church of Burlington, County Road 1, Old US 52, Burlington. Viewing will be 10-11 a.m. with the service at 11 a.m.

Burial will be immediately after service at Woodland Cemetery, Ironton. For additional information, contact Wallace Family Funeral Home.