Carter LaPrade

Carter LaPrade

Died August 26, 2006

Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Carter died at age 63 on August 26, 2006 from multiple injuries after being hit by an elderly driver while bicycling. He was a graduate of St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, majored in political science at Yale and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1968. At Yale, he was a member of DKE, Desmos, and Haunt Club, and he played freshman football and rugby in subsequent years.

Carter later served his country in many respects: first in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years, rising to the rank of captain, and later as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York and also the District of Vermont. Continuing his legal career, he was a litigation partner in Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn, a New Haven law firm, until his retirement. Beyond his law practice, Carter’s civic activities included being chairman of the board of Gaylord Hospital, a trustee of Quinnipiac University, trial practice instructor at Yale Law School, president of the Connecticut Society to Prevent Blindness, trustee Carter and Suzanne at home in Virginia of the New Haven Register and partner in the New Haven Ravens, a minor league baseball team. He retired to the Northern Neck of Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay in 1997.

Carter was emphatic in the class directory for our 35th reunion in 2000 – “I love America, and I love Yale…” even though he was less than impressed by Yale’s business side. Carter’s love of country and business instincts found what sounded like a perfect blend in retirement, as he wrote for our 35th. “(e)ach afternoon a new impressionist painting (looking out his window at the Corrotoman River, a tributary of the Rappahannock) is delivered free (I still hate to spend money), as the sun sets over the river… How long can this last? So far, so good.”

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Suzanne, and their three children, as well as ten grandchildren.

Suzanne wants us to know:

“Carter and I were married in 1967 just after I graduated from college. Our early adventures took us from NYC to Quantico, VA. Never ones to pass up a bargain, we produced three babies in a 28 month period, since the cost at the military hospital was $1.75 a day (and they kicked you out after 2 days). Much later, having three children in college at the same time was the part of the ‘bar- gain’ we hadn’t considered. We eventually settled in Madison, CT where we stayed for some 25 years. With three children and four dogs, chaos was more or less the order of the day. There was a rhythm to our busy life. The kids all played lots of sports, Carter put in long hours at his law firm, I drove lots of carpools, and the years flew by. He was a wonderful husband and father. He was my best friend for so many years. Carter and Seth Hoyt co-chaired a couple of 1965 reunions and he was a tireless cheerleader for the mini reunions. After Jeff Miller stepped down from being class secretary, Carter took on that job; he loved it, especially reconnecting with classmates. After his first term as class secretary, he said, ‘I’m having so much fun with this, I think I’ll continue for another four years.’ This was not exactly music to my ears. Carter did not know how to type, so I was the secretary for the secretary. In retirement, he had found time for many interests. He was a voracious reader (never went anywhere without a paperback in case there was some down time). Physical fitness was almost a religion for him, and he exercised every day, either lifting weights at the Y or jogging, playing tennis, or riding his bike. He pursued new hobbies, such as learning how to ride horses. He even had a stint with karate in which he was beaten handily in a match by a local teenager. We spent a lot of time explor- ing the creeks and rivers of the Chesapeake by boat. It was shortly into his second term as class secretary that he took that fatal bike ride – ‘I’ll be back for lunch’ – and I never got a chance to talk with him again or say good-bye.
Carter loved his years at Yale. He thought his classmates were among the most interesting people in the world, and he was probably right. Certainly ‘the many friendships formed at Yale’ have benefited me greatly, as I continue to stay in touch with a lot of classmates and their spouses. I am sure he will be at your 50th reunion in spirit, so please raise a glass to him and the others who are unable to join you.”

Seth Hoyt remembers:
Carter and I were only getting to know each other while at Yale, though we became close at ’65 class events after graduation, ending up co-chairing two reunions and serving on the Class Council together. Carter was superb at follow-up, detailed and disciplined (qualities I worked hard to acquire). His enthusiasm was infectious and compelling. When I wanted to quit the committee, Carter wouldn’t hear of it. His cheerleading, gentle nudging, appeal to honor and principle carried the day. I learned so much from this guy, really loved and respected him. I miss him to this day, think of him often, consider myself blessed to have been his friend. I’m glad I came to know Suzanne and the LaPrade kids. What a man they were fortunate to have in their lives.

C. Richard Stasney remembers:
Carter was a dear friend and we were plotting a mini-reunion on our ranch in north Texas with Joel Papernik and Herb Kohler when he was killed – great loss to us all.

Dodd Fischer remembers:
Carter was my first roommate. We shared a small bedroom in a Vanderbilt suite. There were two more of us: Gary Wright from Missouri, and Michael Gersh from Long Island. We didn’t jell in any particular way. Carter took great pride in his southern heritage. His father was a doctor in Richmond. I was disrespectful and needled him often, leading to various fights in our bedroom. Little did I know then what I know now: that I am the descendant of two great, great grandfathers who were plantation owners. I am very sorry that I made his life so miserable our freshman year

Charles Farrington remembers:
A good friend and a loyal classmate.

Herbert Thomas remembers:
Although Carter LaPrade and I hadn’t known each other during our undergraduate years, we made friends at the 2000 reunion and saw each other again at the 2001 class dinner and the 2005 reunion. Carter had been much more active in Yale affairs than I – my activity had been zero – and he helped reintegrate me into a community I had lost contact with. I was shocked to learn of his death in August 2006, when his bicycle was run down by a very elderly motorist. May he rest in peace and may his widow Suzanne and his family carry on with life, consoled with mem- ories of what a fine man Carter was.

Robert Leich remembers:
Carter will likely have a hundred remem- brances written for him as he meant so much to so many of us. Our friendship from our Yale days was rekindled some 25 years ago at class events. He was our class secretary when I co-chaired our 40th reunion, and as such we worked together on a weekly basis for a year or more. He and Suzanne came to visit us in Beverly Hills, and I got to show a “Gyrene” that we old “Army Guys” knew how to live. Good memories all, of a great guy and a good friend.

Robin Cody remembers:
Just a prince of a bright modest cheerful gen- erous family guy, hit while biking by a 91-year- old driver. There is no God. Carter and Susan had those four boys and a slew of beautiful athletic grandkids who, like him, will make the world a richer place. Carter could light up a room with that sheep-eating grin and his Richmond drawl and his genuine concern about what’s going on in YOUR life. Men don’t come any better.

Samuel Kilbourn remembers:
I knew Carter thru Deke, which I pledged junior year, and always enjoyed his company. I got to know him better when he found me and brought my vaudeville company The Wright Bros. to Dining Commons at our 25th reunion, then as a solo performer to our 30th at Pierson courtyard (both reunions otherwise outside my budget).

I was shocked to learn late about his death. Carter’s nature was so naturally welcoming that he managed to make me feel less like something of an outlier or misfit with Yale. I have since missed him with sadness.

Duncan Sutherland remembers:
So unfairly taken and sadly missed by many.

William Quayle remembers:
Fraternity brother and friend. He loved our class and contributed so much.

R. Douglas McPheters remembers:
A Class treasure and a class act, gone too soon.

Charles Benoit remembers:
This is part of a letter that I wrote to Carter’s wife Suzanne after hearing the horrible news about the accident that cost Carter his life.
Carter always had a special way of chiding one into action, and he has been with me con- stantly as I have wrestled with the desire and need to express how I feel about our friendship. As I have worked on my Chinese database in the weeks since, my mind has often wandered, and a conversation with Carter invariably starts. The last couple nights’ sleep have included many more flashbacks. I awaken with more determina- tion to write about how I feel. Tomorrow early I leave for Angkor Wat in Cambodia for a few days (my favorite place in the world) and so I cannot fool myself by pretending that I will write this tomorrow.

I just know that Carter would not accept a lame excuse like “words cannot express …” and in his special way he is forcing me to come to terms with how I feel.

I am writing about the heartfelt loss of a very special friend, a witty, mirthful, mischievous, soft-spoken, kind, and caring person whom I miss more than I can easily say.

I remember well the first time I laid eyes on Carter. A smile even came across my face. There were seventeen guys vying for the two starting guard spots on the freshman football team, tough-looking characters like Waterman, Ianello, Vanderwalker, and Cizek. At 160 lbs. soaking wet Carter was by far the least intimidating, but he gained my respect as we battled out in ferocious one-on-one contests to determine the starting pair.

By sophomore year, along, with Mike Waterman and Pete Cummings, Carter and I were roommates. Carter proudly moved in to 815 Branford with fancy red leather furniture that his Dad has just replaced in his office waiting room. Carter announced to his new roommates that the furniture was valuable and that when he graduated from Yale, he planned to sell it and travel to Europe on the proceeds. Carter was obviously ill prepared for how quickly beer cans were called into service to replace the splintered legs. I think that only the couch made it through the first year, but not long afterwards. Meanwhile Carter lived in constant fear of being rusticated. It seems that three New England preppies were a lot less tidy than one Virginian. He placed the blame where it was due, but to very little effect.

Carter always had a special way with words, and I always considered him something of a wordsmith. Words that one learns from one source serve as a constant reminder of that per- son. How many expressions are in my vocabulary because of their special connection with Carter. Many seemed to be metaphors of biblical origin. Although I was unaware of it at the time, some were likely an indication of our different back- grounds. I had attended daily chapel and sung all the hymns while attending Williston (a distant memory), but my manner of expression and vocabulary were completely unaffected. Or just my “feet of clay” (a Carterism).

Proud and formal, Carter gloried in self-dep- recating humor and, at least in his younger days, outlandish behavior. As a freshman he reveled in telling tall tales of how he and his cohorts carried on at debutante parties in Richmond. By sophomore year Carter had a new venue: Deke weekends.

Carter also had a special way of dealing with people he thought were just a little too much. Yale changed football coaches our sophomore year. Coach Pont arrived on campus in the spring and quickly held an all-team meeting to introduce himself to the team. My personal prospects seemed good. Wolf Dietrich and Stan Riveles were graduating leaving Sloot and me as the two top contenders for the starting guard positions. Undoubtedly I gloated one time too many and likely deserved the punishment that Carter meted out. One day a personal letter from Coach Pont arrived inviting me to a meeting at nine the following Monday. Something about wanting to meet personally with those few who would be “spearheading the new offense in the fall.” I was very pleased, but nine a.m. proved to be a stretch, and I arrived twelve minutes late. I was distressed to learn that Coach Pont had already left five minutes before. I returned to our room very concerned about the bad impression I had just made. Determined to recover, I immediately called the Athletic Department and made an appointment to see the new coach the next morn- ing at eight. Pont was sitting at his desk as I walked in a full ten minutes early. The first few minutes were stiff and formal. Pont never came right out and asked me what I wanted to see him about, but before we started talking shop, it sure felt that way.

Carter was waiting when I returned. It was then that I learned that he had stolen some Ray Thompkins (AD) stationery and written the letter himself. I always wondered what Pont thought of the brown-nosing left guard who made sure that the new coach got to know him even before the first practice. This was Carter’s small contribution to more humility in the world.

Although I doubt if the demise of Carter’s Dad’s leather furniture set was the cause, Carter did not make that trip to Europe after graduating. Whatever the cause after a year of Columbia law school Carter was ready, and Pete Cummings and I were at the airport to send him off in style. Somewhere (many martinis are suspect) Pete and I got the idea that Carter did not have to wait in any Columbia line. Pete and I hoisted Carter, who protested in vain, right to the front of the line. As a result check-in went briskly.

Boarding, however, was problematical. Carter had already assumed his Yale position at the head of the Columbia line when the gate was summarily closed due to a suggestion that a bomb was on board. Pete bolted down the empty down ramp, where he was forced to the ground by two burly FBI agents, who had quickly responded to an alarm set off at the boarding gate. I escaped by slipping unnoticed down the crowded on ramp. Carter’s luggage was offloaded and searched. When I caught up with Pete twenty or so minutes later, he was lamenting to the FBI that his prospective career as a lawyer might be put in jeopardy. TWA claimed that their flight had not been delayed. As a result, no charges were pressed. One need not wonder how such an event would be handled under current conditions. Pete and I would have both been deported to Syria. Carter mailed home from Rome his first roll of color slides for developing and early home viewing. As Carter told the story, his Mom was the first to view the slides, which included several shots of Pete and me whizzing in the bushes. If you ever met Carter’s Mom, a southern belle of some pretension (Yankee view), you would better appreciate the humor as Carter did.

When my sister was getting ready to move back east from Denver so that her husband could take up a position at Yale New Haven hospital, I mentioned a roommate who had settled in Madison. I never made the personal connection, but Jane and Charlie nonetheless managed to choose a house directly across from Carter and Suzanne’s. Family gatherings thus also became visits with old friends. On one fateful evening Carter and Suzanne stayed late, and I delayed my return to Boston. More likely I expressed a pref- erence for driving at night, and they remained to accompany me. When we were finally making our way back across the country road that sepa- rated the two houses, the lights of an oncoming vehicle suddenly appeared on the brow of the hill. I was in the middle of the road; Carter and Suzanne just a few steps behind. The driver recklessly slammed on the brakes and lost control of his vehicle. In less time than it takes to describe, the car careened sideways down the hill before slamming into Carter. A devastating sight, Carter’s mouth and teeth bore the brunt of the blow. Carter never forgot the emergency care he received that night, and once fully recovered, in typical Carter fashion, he volunteered for many years as an EMT.

Carter may have once been the smallest guard on the freshman team, but unlike some who had an early start, Carter exercised routine- ly all his life. An avid jogger, he even ran a couple marathons. Mini or not I am not even sure. These were not races exactly. The goal was to finish and often to accompany one or more of his kids. Mindful of the ordeal we were put though at Yale as freshman, Carter specialized in pull ups. There were few people who could do more unless it was Burch, whom Carter once described as the family champion. But to me the wimpy guard that Carter once appeared to be turned out to be a husky guy with biceps that I would have been proud to have had when we went face to face in those now silly football confrontations.

As I became involved in Asia and increasingly interested in China, I became aware of a Yale graduate (1952, I think) named Jack Downey, who was languishing in a Chinese prison somewhere. Shot down over China in 1954, Downey had been sentenced to life imprisonment for being a spy. Downey had joined the CIA right out of college when Yale was still a preferred recruiting ground. I always wondered whether I had the stuff to survive such an ordeal. I fancied myself tough enough to sustain torture as I knew it. I am simply too stubborn to give in. But solitary confinement? I was not so sure, and there was no convenient way to find out. As a result Papillion, along with The Manchurian Candidate, are two of my favorite movies. Downey, a Yale guard like myself, became one of my private heroes. Upon release in 1973 he belatedly attended Yale Law School and later settled in Connecticut. One day out of the blue, Carter invited me to dinner. He had invited Downey, and the three of us spent the evening discussing all those things that I had fantasized about for nearly two decades. It is a truly wonderful experience when one of one’s personal heroes exceeds the billing one has created for him. Just one more example of Carter listening carefully and then acting in a very unique personal way.

As the years passed Carter was often the source of concrete practical advice. Carter had a knack for giving unsolicited advice in a manner that was non-confrontational and always helpful. When I returned from Vietnam in 1975 Carter was helpful in suggesting that I not take great career risks in attempting to make up for lost time. Good advice that I would have been wise to have followed more closely.

For one bit of advice I owe Carter greatly and I regret tremendously that I was not in a position to share Carter’s simple charge to me with his children Suzanne, Carter, or Burch. It troubles me to think that Carter’s sudden departure might have left them with things they wished they had said to their father. How could it have been otherwise? As my Dad’s health failed, Carter’s advice to me was simple. “Charlie, say it early and say it all. Leave nothing unsaid.” How many times after my Dad died did I think that but for that advice I would have temporized and regret- ted. What kids wonder about after the passing of a parent is simply whether that parent was proud of them, of what they grew up to become, of who they are as adults. To Suzanne and Carter and Burch I can say that their Dad was fiercely proud of each and often said as much to me. Three unique individuals, each different, and each a credit to very proud parents. My Dad never said much about how he felt, but thanks to Carter I told my Dad all that I felt, nothing profound, just all that I what I wanted to say, and how grateful I am to Carter for showing me the way to do that.

For a number of reasons I decided not to attend our last reunion, one of the few that I have missed. Therefore, I also missed the small gathering that Carter hosted at his new home just before. I think that Ron, Pete, and Mel attended. At least Max and I were absent. I sorely wish now that I could rethink that decision. Fortunately, I did attend the wedding of Carter’s Suzanne some months before. I observed Carter for the first time on home turf as an adult. I will never forget catching his eye in the church. Beaming with pride, Carter was struggling to fight back the tears that naturally came to the fore. A memorable event for this Yankee as I was able to experience first-hand the gentility and sensibility of southern life that had made Carter the distinctive person he was, that I had not appreciated in the least as we decimated his Dad’s leather couch well before its time.

The past couple weeks as I have pondered the unnecessary loss of a friend who has meant so much to me over the years. I also experienced some initially very angry feelings about an irresponsible old man stubbornly clinging to the only life style he knew. As I have slowly begun to accept Carter’s untimely departure, I have also begun to wonder just how different we really already are in the eyes of some who happen to be flush with the impertinence of youth. So now I can begin to think upon that old man as I think Carter would, with more sympathy than anger. As a memorial to a wonderful person I have vowed to learn from this lesson and empowered Jiam and Nick to help me live up to this commitment.

I thank Carter for all that he contributed to my understanding and appreciation over the years. I also thank him for helping me face squarely my own ghosts and vow to him, as I know he would ask me to, to do a better job of managing them.

To Carter, the best damn Huguenot I’ll ever know.

May you rest in peace.

John Pinney remembers:
Carter was one of those people you could never forget, even if you wanted to, but I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to remember him. We became friends freshman year, and I was looking forward to seeing him more often when we got the awful news about his death. I can still see him in Commons freshman year, trying to gain weight for freshman football. He came back to the table with two slices of bread a brick of ice cream which he called, in typical Carter fashion, an ice cream sandwich. Truly one of a kind and still terribly missed.