Janice Rice describes her beloved grandmother Liz Carter as “the most selfless, accepting woman you could ever meet. She was always taking care of other people’s needs.”
Carter, a recent inductee into the Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame, recipient of the Order of Abbotsford, and charter member of the Valley Concert Society – among many other activities and honours – passed away on Wednesday at age of 79 after a battle with cancer.
“She was an inspiration and an example to live by,” said Rice.
“I will just remember her endless musical laughter, her energy and her positivity.”
Carter’s involvement in the community was legendary, as a community sports builder and volunteer.
A native of Liverpool, England, Carter arrived in Abbotsford in the early 1960s in her mid-20s and realized there was a shortage of recreational activities available in the community.
“There wasn’t a lot of variety in what recreation was going on here when I arrived, and for some reason, I just thought there should be more. And it blossomed from there,” she told The News in April 2014.
Cater, who worked at MSA Hospital as a nurse and midwife, would change that.
After taking tennis lessons through the Matsqui Abbotsford Recreation Commission, she led a fundraising campaign to build tennis courts next to MSA Arena. She also gave lessons and served as president of the Abbotsford/Matsqui Ladies Tennis Club for several years.
Carter’s interest in athletics extended beyond the court.
In the early 1970s, she also started teaching gymnastics through the Matsqui rec commission and later played an instrumental role in the creation of the Twisters Gymnastics Club, which she stayed involved with for nearly 30 years.
After Carter’s son Paul began participating in martial arts with the Abbotsford Judo club, she got more involved in the sport, helping the club approach city council to find a building for the non-profit club and also serving on the club’s board.
Carter’s tireless volunteerism wasn’t limited to athletics. She was a founding member of the Valley Concert Society and sat as board member for over 30 years. Other community involvement included volunteering with countless steering committees, clubs and organizations, including the, Matsqui/Abbotsford Recreation Commission Advisory, Western Canada Summer Games, Abbotsford Lions Club, Abbotsford Arts Centre Committee, BC Disability Games, Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame, BC Summer Games and BC Senior Games.
In a 2014 interview with The News, Carter credited her father, Charles Gregory, for sparking her enthusiasm in volunteering. “He was a very compassionate person and I always tried to remember that. He was always helping somebody, and I think I picked that up.”
In 2014 Carter was inducted into the Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame and also received the Order of Abbotsford. Among her long list of other personal awards: Outstanding Volunteer Award from Abbotsford/Matsqui Recreation Commission; Government of Canada Award “Celebration 88” Award for outstanding achievements in amateur sports; awarded Freeman of the Municipality of Matsqui for outstanding contributions to the community; B.C. Gymnastics Presidential Award; Abbotsford Arts Council Arty Award and Valley Concert Society 30 Years of Appreciation Award.
Carter is survived by her husband of 52 years Ralph Carter and her two children Paul Carter and Sandra Neiman, grandchildren Rachel Brown, Janice Rice and Rebecca Carter, and four great-grandchildren, Aiden Rice, Ashtyn Rice, Sophia Brown and Liam Brown.
“Mum worked tirelessly to not only help the organizations but also the families of this community. She’s touched the lives and left an impact on every single person she’s worked with and I’m so proud of her for that,” said son Paul.
The Carter family has not yet finalized plans for a public funeral service for Liz. Check back at abbynews.com for details.
There will be a special tribute to Carter during Saturday’s performance by Turning Point Ensemble presented by Valley Concert Society at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.
“She was one of our charter members. She been a board member for 32 years. She’s been just a really valuable member of the society, she’s been dedicated, absolutely reliable and just a delightful person,” said John Wiebe of Valley Concert Society. “She’s got an impish sense of humour, people not only have a lot of respect for her but they also have a lot of affection for her.”
For more about the concert, visit valleyconcertsociety.com.