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Ann Brooks Carter, 1917-2011

Ann Brooks Carter, 1917–2011

Ann Brooks Carter was born into a loving Quaker family in Medford, Massachusetts, on February 10, 1917. After graduation from Smith College in 1938, she taught at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, which she had attended. In 1942 Ann married H. Adams Carter, former editor of this journal, in whose “steps she trod” for 53 years, joining him on climbs and expeditions from New Hampshire’s White Mountains to Peru, Asia, and Eastern and Western Europe.

They attended both the wedding and the coronation of the King of Nepal, whom they had hosted in their home in Jefferson, New Hampshire, while he was studying at Harvard in 1967. In 1974 they trekked with another couple to the base of K2. Two years later Ann spent a month at a Ghandi Ashram in the foothills while Ad was on expedition. In 1988, at the invitation of the Chinese Mountaineering Federation, they became the first foreigners since the Revolution to be allowed into the Tibetan Plateau region of Yunnan Province, this in connection with a joint Chinese-American expedition. And in 1993 they joined Queen Elizabeth, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the first ascent of Mt. Everest.

Although Ad was the AAJ’s official editor, Ann spent almost as many hours as he did editing text and reading galley proofs. In 1994 she was honored with the AAC’s Angelo Heilprin Citation for this work. The side benefit for them was that they seemed to always have a place to stay with a fellow mountaineer during their world travels.

During WWII Ann and Ad were based in Washington, DC, but they both spent substantial time on Mt. Washington in the winter, testing and developing mountaineering equipment for the 10th Mountain Division. Following the war they moved to Chile for nine months, before settling for 58 years in Milton, Massachusetts. There Ad taught foreign languages, while Ann was a community volunteer and surrogate parent to countless boarding and foreign students. She was famous for her afternoon teas and ever-open heart.

Some of Ann’s favorite times were spent in Jefferson, where she hosted AAC meetings, climbers, and friends, which she continued to do even after Ad’s death in 1995. Last summer, at age 94, she was still sailing her beloved 1913 Catboat and swimming in Pleasant Bay.

Untroubled by the constraints of age, Ann was always willing to try something new. On last Columbus Day weekend, a few days before she was diagnosed with colon cancer, she was in Jefferson. Her son Peter called and said, “If you can get over here this afternoon, let’s go up in a balloon.” That afternoon they were floating a mile above the mountains of Vermont. “That was pretty typical of her,” Peter recalled. “Instead of saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ she climbed right in, and up we went.” Parts of this obituary appeared in The Boston Globe and The Valley News.

Jed Williamson