He arrived on campus “ready to roll,” despite never owning a vehicle in college. He had as many ideas daily as some folks do in a lifetime, some of ‘em good. He made friends readily, but enjoyed his “puzzlement” status with many.
Admired and respected by faculty and fellow students, he never lacked transportation. Friends cheerfully tossed him their car keys, figuring that his need to travel was usually legitimate. He exuded trust, with his fingerprints on many car keys, including mine.
Ever “puckish,” he somehow managed to stay in bounds, sometimes straining the last cable strands of propriety, practicality and presumption. Yep, that would be Brian Carter, an idea guy who put feet to dreams, “pied-pipering” others to march in his line. Ever bold, he was a great student body president at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, in 1999.
Carter, a graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School, crowded much into his four collegiate years. He played on a conference championship football team, won numerous academic honors and attended Marine Officer Candidate School during two summers — all the while courting Rebekah Regino, also a campus leader. She, too, was everywhere, beaming with beauty, charm and intelligence.
She’s always been able to “rein in” her hubby, whom she married a dozen years ago. She was at his side during six months of intensive language study in Mexico, graduate study at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and military assignment in Okinawa, Japan.
During his tour of duty as a diplomatic relations officer in Iraq, the Marine captain labored in high stress negotiations, working with local leaders there.
Two daughters, Claire and Chloe, were born in 2006 and 2008, and the Carters were blessed with a son, Clayton Matthew, in 2009. Well, he actually has a third given name.
His dad gave it to him, pulling a “sneaky” on his wife during Clay’s second day of life. When they came for birth certificate data, Rebekah was feeding the infant, so Brian provided the two jointly-chosen names — plus a third he thought to be clever.
The lad’s full name: “Clayton Matthew Clutch Carter.”
Dad is dreaming big dreams for his son. He thinks “Clutch Carter” has a nice sound, will look great in headlines and will give his offspring much to talk about. (Rebekah, of a mind that such a name is “too much to explain,” opts for calling him “Clay.”)
Sighing, she remembered the “for richer/for poorer” wedding vows. The naming debacle she’s labeled one of the “poorer” moments.
Thankfully, much more “richer” abounds.
Brian is still “rolling,” now in senior management at Michelin North America, Ardmore, Okla. He started in the industrial engineering department five years ago, undergoing immediate intensive training in a field far removed from collegiate study. Promoted to senior industrial engineer for one year, he assumed management of the department two years ago.
Too much is made of drop-outs, foul-ups and assorted other negatives these days.
Here’s an account of a man with a plan who continues to work, learn and dream, the latter even for his son.
He’s still “puckish” at age 35, and I’m glad. Oozing with confidence and ready to take on whatever comes next, he’s committed always to grow. Just ask the folks at Ardmore Public Library. He’s at the top of the checkout list, and drivers of the inter-library loan truck groan.
Sometimes, though, his memory fails him.
He’s been telling friends that he beat me in a typing contest. I have no memory of the contest, but if it occurred, I know that I surely won, or did no worse than tie.
He’ll never “lose the common touch,” and again, I’m glad! One of his classmates — now a colleague in Ardmore — Danny Cullins, claims that at least 20 people consider Brian to be their best friend. “Including me,” he said.
My memory of details in many dozens of graduation exercises grows dim. The 1999 graduation is set apart, however. At an early hour that day, my wife and I joined the Carter family and friends in the church courtyard. We clearly remember the somber moment when Brian was commissioned as a U.S. Marine officer.
We wept with thanksgiving that he would vow to defend the likes of us. His folks, the Rev. Dan and Jan Carter, Rebekah and others whose lives have been touched by this man, are proud. My wife Brenda and I are, too.
Don Newbury is a writer and former college university president who lives in Texas.