Linda Lou Carter, longtime Hay River resident and active community member has died.
Family and friends gathered for a memorial service to celebrate Carter’s life at Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church on Jan. 8.
The event was also live streamed for friends near and abroad seeking to pay their respects as public gatherings are limited due to Covid-19. A procession followed to the Hay River Hospital following the event.
Daughter Sharlyn delivered a moving speech touching on Linda’s love of different aspects of her life in Hay River – from her love of her Canadian Rangers and the military, to involvement with the curling club and museum, to important calendar events like Halloween, Christmas and Canada Day.
“She loved this town like it was her parent …. and perhaps it was like a parent to her this little tiny town. It guided her. It supported her. It gave her all the opportunities she wished for. And it always gave back to her. As much as she gave, it gave back to her.”
Her speech included the importance of putting thoughts to action in town as a way of being kind to one another. Among some of the later ideas that Linda had was her role in bringing about the Campground Christmas during Covid-19 which allowed families to tour Hay River Territorial Park to see Christmas lights.
“Mom had so many grand ideas and so many people in this community have beautiful ideas and intentions to make a better place,” Sharlyn said. “The only secret wasn’t more time, it was action.”
Carter was born in the rural Manitoba town of Rorketon on June 22, 1948 before moving to the West Channel in 1955 – an important natural landscape due to its ties to fishing and harvesting in the area. For more than 60 years, she grew with the community and became ingrained with its history and people.
Friends and residents that the Hub was able to reach in recent days also had warm thoughts and stories about Carter’s contributions to the community over the years.
Tom Lakusta, chair of the Hay River Museum Society noted Linda’s devotion to the community as a museum board member. This included up to recent years as the town celebrated its 20th anniversary with beautification of the site and new additions continually provided- including salvaged parts of the old Hay River Hotel.
“She cared deeply for this community and she cared about the history of the community and loved to celebrate it,” he said. “For the museum society she did a lot of different things as both a personality and as an individual who was charismatic and a doer and who did things.”
Specifically he said she had access to her family’s company Carter Industries which helped with everything from landscaping of the museum grounds to assisting with building stability needs.
“Carter Industries was always offering amazing support for the museum over the years but a lot of that was due to Linda just making a phone call,” Lakusta said.
As a lover of Halloween, Carter also initiated the Pumpkin Walk near the museum which the board has committed to carrying on in her memory.
Carter was recently publicly honored and celebrated by the community during a Halloween parade by her home on Miron Drive where for three decades she hosted a popular haunted house. The gathering allowed Linda a chance to share with her family and friends in a Covid-19 safe setting outside.
She told the Hay River Hub at the time that she was pleased with the energy and commitment of the children and the legacy of the always evolving haunted house. At that time, she recognized her time was limited and as a Canadian Ranger wanted to be able to mark Remembrance Day.
“I know that I don’t have that much time but I’m glad I made the parade anyway,” she said.
“The parade was very emotional and I’m telling you, I’ve never known any other community to contribute so much compassion and kindness.
“I’m not so much afraid of passing as much as I’m sad that I’m leaving this great place.I just love Hay River so much.”
Carter is survived by her husband Garry and children Shawn, Sharlyn, and Jason and grandchildren Dylan, Marisa, and Kaiah.