Weptanomah Carter, who wrote of her experiences as the wife of a well-known Baltimore clergyman and founded a neighborhood children's center, died of cancer Friday at her Stevenson home. She was 69.
For the past 40 years she sat in the first pew of the 5,000-member New Shiloh Baptist Church, where both her husband, the Rev. Harold A. Carter Sr., and her son, the Rev. Harold A. Carter, now serve in the office of pastor.
For many years, local radio listeners heard her name prefaced with the phrase "my lovely wife" during her husband's introductory comments before his sermon on WBAL-AM, which was broadcast for many years on Sunday nights.
Born Weptanomah Bermuda Washington in Ossining, N.Y., she lived for 22 years in the parsonage of her father's Baptist church in Philadelphia's Germantown section. She played piano for the church's gospel chorus.
In a 1976 Evening Sun interview, Mrs. Carter said that she watched her mother "perform in the closely observed role of the minister's wife," but did not want to go that route. "I knew that I did not fit the mold of a traditional black minister's wife."
She also recalled making "a quick exit through the back door" of her parents' home the first time she was to meet the man who became her husband, who was then a seminarian while she was a student at Millersville State Teachers College.
They married 46 years ago and moved to Baltimore in 1965, when Mr. Carter became pastor at New Shiloh. The church was then at Fremont Avenue and Lanvale Street and had about 800 members.
Mrs. Carter taught kindergarten for several years at Baltimore's Ashburton Elementary School and then taught at a private nursery school in Edmondson Village.
"One dreary October day I was sitting in the classroom and just couldn't decide what I was doing there, so I left and never went back," she said in the interview.
She studied theology at Howard University's School of Divinity, and earned a master's degree from Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg, which also awarded her an honorary doctor of divinity degree.
In 1976, she wrote The Black Minister's Wife, which had been part of her master's thesis and is now in its fourth printing - a 109-page book with advice for other ministers' wives. She also arranged and addressed two conventions of ministers' wives.
"It was an untapped subject and it met a need," her son said. "In so many ways, she helped to redefine the role of the minister's wife. She was not a go-getter, but she was a doer. She had a gift for creating new ministries. When she saw a need, she met it."
In 2000, when she observed children with nothing to do after school, she founded the Carter Children's Center for neighborhood youngsters to receive academic enrichment, food, clothing, field trips and occasional gifts. On Thursday nights, she tutored children at the church.
Mrs. Carter was named in 1977 to the board of what is now Baltimore City Community College, serving for seven years. In 1978, she received a distinguished alumni service award from what is now Millersville University. In 1993, she was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Sponsors at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow, and the funeral will be at noon Thursday at New Shiloh, 2100 N. Monroe St.
In addition to her husband and son, survivors include her daughter, Weptanomah Carter Davis of Bowie; a sister, Jacqueline Audree Wilmer of Philadelphia; and four grandchildren.