“My greatest joy in life is to see the young men I have watched grow up to become today’s church leaders.”
Richard Carter grew up in Drain, Oregon, where he remembers hearing repeatedly, “As much as it rains in Oregon, you need a Drain somewhere!” His father worked for the Road Department first out of the eastside station close to his parents’ ranch and was transferred to work in western Oregon. Richard attended first grade in a one-room schoolhouse, and in second grade, went into town for school. He was the first one on the bus early in the morning and the last one off at night getting home late. Then his folks moved to Drain, where his dad was transferred. Richard spent the rest of his school days in Drain and graduated in a class of 24.
Church camp has challenged many a young life to commit to a life of ministry, and Richard was one of those challenged. He attended church camp regularly and around a campfire towards the end of high school, Richard remembers clearly being challenged to be committed to Jesus for life and consider a calling into ministry. That night he promised God that if He could use him, he was available and asked Him to show him the way. It then took a while for his commitment to see fruition. He attended the University of Oregon for a year before transferring to Boise Bible College. He was serving in ROTC and needed his commander’s permission to be released from his commitment without having to serve full-time in the service. His commander found a way to release him, and he was able to attend Bible college with no penalties or need to fulfill his service requirement. Richard never figured out exactly how this happened, but he never looked back either.
One night at camp, a cute girl asked for a ride home to Drain, and he ended up giving a couple of girls rides home, one to Cottage Grove and one to Drain. That evening led to a “date” to a ball game. This was the beginning of a lifetime relationship. Richard went off to school, and they wrote letters for a year while he got started at Boise Bible College. Richard and Eloise were married in December of 1953, and today they are working on year number 69th year of marriage. They were each at the tender age of 21 when they started marriage. Their honeymoon was mostly spent moving to Boise and setting up a house to finish college.
Richard was blessed by the instruction he received at the college in those early years. Kenny Beckman was an amazing teacher and, later in life, a friend. He roomed before marriage with Ed Klor and Ken Hestead. When asked about their adventures, his eyes twinkled some and he said years had passed, but there was no reason to incriminate anyone. He drove buses for the Boise Bus Company (BBC) while a student. His route circled around the north end of Boise, going down 36th street, where he remembers picking up kids from the Christian Children’s Home. He and Ed, who also drove for the bus company, would wash buses on weekends to make extra money.
Eloise received her “MRS” degree in 1953, and Richard graduated in 1956—the 15th graduate of Boise Bible—with a BA. The class of 1956 included: Harriet Klor, Ardith (Daggett) Mackler, Jean Peterson, Al Scott, and Virginia Van Hoy. They were the largest class to that point for Boise Bible. Previous classes were: 1950 -1; 1952 -3; 1953 – 2; 1954 – 3; 1955 – 5. The first six graduating classes were evenly split between men and women, 10 each. (Interesting note – the next twenty graduates were 16 males and 4 females).
Life After Boise Bible College
After graduation, the Carters moved back to Drain. An elder from the Drain Church of Christ who had been preaching at a small church at Wells Creek invited Richard to preach. It wasn’t too many Sundays before he was hired to preach every week. They had lived in a 32-foot travel coach while at Boise Bible. They retrieved it from Boise and moved it next to the church in Wells Creek. To make ends meet, he worked in the woods for various people. He worked the longest with the Baimbridge family. That allowed them to sell their “first home,” the motorcoach, and move into a house on the property they were working.
A new church was being formed in Eugene, and he preached there for about four years. The church “evolved” to Norvell Park and then became Garden Way Christian Church. An elder asked him to drop by to see his niece, who was in a bad traffic accident. He visited her many times over a long period of time and helped her recover. That relationship with the elder and his niece led them to a church in Sutherlin. Lloyd Whitford had started the church. Charles Crane was the next preacher, and when he left, Richard was asked to follow him. That was a challenge as “Chuck,” as he was known in those days, had super-charged the church, and no one would ever do things just as “Chuck” did. But Richard found a way to do ministry there and spent nine years serving in Sutherlin. During that time, he would help at summer camps. He remembers being given the “challenging” boys, that were usually housed in a cabin up the hill away from others. Richard has always loved working with young men, and perhaps seeing them grow in the Lord is one of the greatest joys in his life. At camp, they got acquainted with Dan and Esther Burris, missionaries in then Rhodesia. Dan convinced Richard and Eloise to join them in Africa to train up preachers and start churches.
Soon the Carter family—Richard, Eloise, Rick, Tim, Pam, and Becky—were all moving to Rhodesia. They set up home in Dine, Rhodesia, a small village, hours from the nearest city. He worked with Dan and Esther Burris in the equipping of nationals to be preachers of the gospel. They lived in a very humble setting in the middle of the bush but made a huge impact in training young men to preach the gospel. Their timing wasn’t so great, as the country was in a revolution, and much of three years there were spent dodging terrorists and chuckholes. Finally, Dan and Richard sent their families home for their safety. Richard recalls one flight in Dan’s plane over some remote area, and they heard some banging sounds, and Dan looked out and said, “I think they’re shooting at us!” Dan and Richard were also soon forced to return stateside for their safety.
When they returned to the states, Richard ministered at Oakland. They worked through building a new church building. They made many lifetime friends in the nine years they were there. Dale Marshall (BA’59), a missionary doing the same type of work in the northern part of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), asked the Carters to fill in for a year while they were on furlough. They enjoyed another year in Africa and made more memories.
They came home to attend Oakland Church of Christ, and although semi-retired, he was asked to preach as an interim for some time. Kris Tripp was eventually called, and Richard was asked to serve as an elder, which he did for many years. He enjoyed those years immensely. One of his greatest joys is now seeing young men he has worked with becoming the Church leaders of today.
Richard and Tom Moyer were program directors for an annual Family Camp at Grove Camp for many years. Their camps were always loaded with fun and laughs and great Bible teaching. Richard loves people and telling stories; the camp was a great place to encourage others to consider a life of ministry.
Richard served on the Boise Bible College board for many years. He has always supported the mission of the college to glorify God by equipping servant leaders who serve the church to advance the gospel worldwide. He has helped recruit numerous students and has worked over the years closely with several graduates.
He and Eloise established the “Carter Family Scholarship” several years ago to continue their effort to encourage young men and women to consider a life of ministry.
Today Richard and Eloise live in Salem, Oregon, at Boone Ridge Senior Living Community. Richard is 88 and still is willing to share the gospel and life with anyone who will listen. Eloise is having some health issues, but both make the most of their senior years and reluctantly allow others to care for many of their needs. Boise Bible College is thankful for the many years of service Richard, and Eloise have given to the church, and for the legacy, they leave in the lives of those they have mentored and humbly served.