Frank B. Carter Jr., the first black court reporter for the Supreme Bench of Baltimore and author of a mystery novel, died Friday of heart failure at Franklin Square Hospital.
Mr. Carter, who was 68 and lived on Elderon Avenue, retired in 1989 from what had by then become the Baltimore Circuit Court. Family members said his 1964 appointment also made him the first black court reporter in Maryland.
Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan, administrative judge of the Baltimore Circuit Court, described him as "a superior reporter who did a great job for many years." He said that Mr. Carter was accurate and dependable, "always there when you needed him."
Mr. Carter began his career as a stenographic reporter in 1958 at the state Workmen's Compensation Commission.
In 1954, while he was working as a carpenter, he became interested in stenographic reporting while attending a workers' compensation hearing that involved an on-the-job accident that killed his brother, also a carpenter.
The next year, he began a three-year course in stenography at the LaSalle Extension University. He later earned an associate's degree from the then-Community College of Baltimore.
He became known at the courthouse for his helpfulness to new court reporters and to any others who might ask his advice or help. In 1984, after he became ill with lung cancer, he was given a testimonial dinner by relatives, friends and colleagues.
Born in Catonsville, but reared in Virginia, he was a graduate of the A.T. Wright High School in Whitestone, Va.
In 1979, "Mendacity Without Scruples," a mystery novel that he wrote, was published. The book was featured in an Enoch Pratt Free Library window and cited in several newspaper articles. It was one in a series of mysteries he continued to write during his retirement.
Services for Mr. Carter were to be conducted at noon today at the Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church, 1206 Etting St., Baltimore.
He is survived by his wife, the former Onily Grimes; two daughters, Del Henson and Brenda Kelly; a son, Frankie Carter; five sisters, Zenobia Carter, Maria Beane, Romaine Baker, Betty Carter and Patricia Carter; six brothers, Eugene, George, Daniel, Robert, William and Irvin Carter; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. All are of Baltimore.