Virginia Carter

Carter, Virginia
Virginia Auburn Carter, a resident of Greenwich from 1947 to 1973, died peacefully on May 28, 2013 after a brief stay at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx. According to her family, the cause of death was a recently diagnosed cancer. Virginia was born November 24, 1918 in New York City to Charles Auburn and Virginia Helen Dodge. Through her mother, she was a direct descendant of Richard Dodge, who came to this country on the Lion's Whelp, a sister ship of the Mayflower. Always an avid reader, she grew up in Gramercy Park and graduated at age 16 from Friends Seminary and at 19 from Dickinson College. In May, 1945, she met Dr. Gordon Farquhar Robertson, who was serving at the time as a Lt. Commander in the US Navy, at an officer's club party in NYC. Six weeks later they were married. In 1947, they moved to Greenwich, where Dr. Robertson joined the internal medicine practice headed by Dr. Gray Carter (not related). In May, 1963, Dr. Robertson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. As insurance for the family's future, he encouraged Virginia to accept a job in the children's room of the Greenwich Library. The Friends of the library offered her a scholarship to get her master's degree in library science, but she was unable to accept the offer until two years later. Because of Dr. Robertson's death in February, 1964, she felt that she couldn't add graduate school to her full-time job and the care of her children. She married Donald Lloyd Carter in April 1967 and received the MLS degree from Pratt Institute in February, 1968. A job change for her husband took them in 1973 to Massachusetts and later to Rhode Island. By 1973, Virginia had accepted the position of Library Director in Coventry, RI. When she began the job, the library was in an outdated single room building, with one assistant. In 1978, she originated and wrote a federal grant proposal that helped to fund a larger facility to house both the library and the town hall. Thanks to another grant proposal to the US Department of Education, which she also originated and wrote, in 1980 she was able to found a chapter of the Literacy Volunteers of America in Coventry. It was the first such chapter in RI. Two years later the Coventry chapter was nominated as one of five from a field of 160 LVA chapters for the Affiliate of the Year Award. She was named Rhode Island Librarian of the Year in 1991 by the RI Library Association. Before she retired that same year, there were more awards, including a citation from the RI Senate in recognition of her dedicated service to the library and a proclamation from the governor declaring July 29 as Virginia Carter Day. When she left the library, there were five full-time librarians, some having earned the MLS degree with her encouragement. After her retirement, she and her husband moved to Vero Beach, Florida. She remained in their home there after his death in 1994 until this past February, when she came back to Greenwich to be near her children. She is survived by three sons: William D. (Scarlett), Gordon K. and Alexander D. (Sabrina) and a daughter: Laurie R. Sweet (Ames); five granddaughters: Scarlett Robertson, Alexis R. Smith, Caitlin Sweetlamb, Annalee S. Berge and Olivia A. Sweet; and two great granddaughters: Grayleigh Smith and Nora Berge. She was predeceased by a half- sister, Dolly Auburn Kinnear and an infant daughter, Nancy Robertson, as well as her parents and two husbands. At Virginia's request, her ashes will be placed with Dr. Robertson's in Hewlett, Long Island in a private ceremony.. For those who would like to make a contribution in her memory, the family suggests the Literacy Volunteers of Kent County, 1672 Flat River Road, Coventry, RI 02816.

Published in GreenwichTime on June 16, 2013