Tom Carter was born on a farm in Strandhill, Sligo, Ireland in 1934 to Sarah and Robert Carter who had five sons and three daughters. Tom’s early life was not an easy one. His mother passed when he was only 3 years of age, so he and the youngest siblings were either sent to a church sponsored boarding school, or passed on to other relations, as his father could not raise them all on a working farm. Despite being separated from his siblings at an early age, Tom always did his best to maintain his familial bonds, even after he moved from Ireland.
At the age of 17, Tom moved to England as a plasterer’s apprentice where he not only learned the trade, but also discovered a passion for ballroom dancing that he would enjoy for the rest of his life. He reconnected with his elder brothers in England, and in 1957 Tom moved from London, England to Dunnville, Ontario with is older brother, Bob. Although he knew no one upon arriving in Canada, it only took him a short while to make life long friends in that community, as a founding member of the Dunnville United Soccer Club.
In 1959, Dad heard that the Welland Police Force was hiring. He drove from Dunnville to Welland to apply, and had to walk the last few miles after his car broke down. Tom, unknowingly, spoke to the current Chief of Police when asking to apply. That Chief was a World War II Air Force veteran who had an Irish partner in flying sorties over Europe. Dad always believed that his Irish accent got him the job, since as we all know, there really wasn’t a set hiring protocol back then. Tom worked in several capacities during his 30 year career; Patrol Constable & Sergeant, Fraud and General Assignments investigator and Sergeant, retiring from the Niagara Regional Police Department on April 1, 1990. He had many partners over the years who were involved in his investigations and escapades. Some of the more memorable ones were, or are; Marty Welychka, Paul Bruno, Bob Clarkson, Steve MacLeod, Mickey Riddle, Gary Beaulieu, and Bob Shennan who was close to Dad up until his passing.
Tom not only served Welland and Port Colborne as a police officer, he was also the Chairman of the Rose Festival for seven consecutive years. Early in his career, he also organized youth dances in Welland when he saw that there was a lack of activities for youth in the area. He undoubtedly thought that his love of dance would be a useful social activity for others.
Every Saturday night, Mom and Dad could be found at the Welland Royal Canadian Legion dancing the night away in the company of friends. Dad often said that he was adopted into the Forand (Bob) and Nesbitt (Tommy, Jimmy, Billy and Jack) families whom he met as a new arrival in Welland and remained close with over the years. Tom also had a very close friendship with the late Claire Simpson (founder of Claire’s Delivery), and they enjoyed much mischief making and laughs over the years.
Dad’s life partner was his wife Truus Carter (nee Van Eyk), who was a Dutch immigrant. They met in 1961 while Dad walked the beat and was having a coffee in the Majestic Restaurant where Mom was working. In 1963 they were married, and in 1964 and 1965 had a son and daughter; Desmond and Teresa. In those days, police didn’t make much money, so Dad supplemented the family income with plastering jobs and renovating houses. He often worked his police shift and then immediately went to work on a building project. Over the years, Dad and Mom made some investments in real estate, and although they came to Canada with next to nothing, they were well provided for in retirement.
Tom and Truus lived in Fonthill for the latter part of their lives. Tom being the quintessential Irishman took great pleasure in telling the locals stories (both real and nonsense) at pubs. Dad probably lost count of the number people he regaled with his story of Neddy the Donkey, and many others.
Mom passed in 2021, and Dad was never quite the same. During the final year of his life, Tom would be spotted on his mobility scooter as he whipped around Fonthill, or popped in somewhere for a pint. Wherever he went, Tom was greeted and assisted by many people, and for that he was grateful, as is his family today. The Carter family is also very thankful to Tom’s former neighbours in Kinsman Crt., and to the staff and residents of Lookout Ridge for their friendship, care and kindness.
Tom Carter passed away peacefully at the Welland General Hospital on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 at the age of 88. He leaves Desmond Carter, Teresa Hamilton (Glen) and grandchildren; Carter, Breean and Larissa. Tom is also survived by his youngest sister Gladys who resides in Ireland. He is fondly remembered by a wealth of nieces, nephews and extended family in Ireland, England and Canada.
According to his wishes, Dad was cremated, and although there is no visitation, a celebration of life will be held. We hope you join us in remembering Tom Carter on Saturday, November 12th at the Fonthill Royal Canadian Legion between 1 – 4 p.m. At 2 p.m., comments and stories about Tom are welcome and encouraged.