Obituary: Joe Carter of St. Paul

  • Article by: JEFFREY E. MCCANTS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 17, 2006 - 12:54 PM

The open-spirited St. Paul man spent six years in Haiti, then traveled the world performing.

Joe Carter, an actor, singer and missionary who worked with many Minnesota theater organizations, died Monday of leukemia at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. He was 57.

"He had so much goodness in him, he would do anything for anyone," said his sister, Joy King. "He had one of the most magnificent voices in the world and yet he would sing for free or for pennies."

Carter was born in Cambridge, Mass., and moved to St. Paul in 1987. He was best known in the Twin Cities for his frequent participation in "Black Nativity," the Penumbra Theatre Company's annual holiday show, but friends and family members said he has done much more. After spending six years as a missionary in Haiti, he traveled the world performing in operas, musicals and concerts. He appeared in "Showboat" with the Minnesota Opera and toured in the opera's production of "Madame Butterfly."

"He just had this open spirit about him," said the Rev. Chris Conner of St. Paul, who said Carter was like his surrogate father. "Even folks who had wronged him, he had this open, magnanimous spirit about him."

Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, invited Carter to sing at the 50th anniversary of India's independence in 1997, and Carter gave a special performance at the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Carter was also invited by the emir of Kano, Nigeria, to the royal durbar, a three-day celebration at which he was given the white turban, which signifies acceptance into the royal family, an honor that the Rev. Jesse Jackson was given as well.

Mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis awarded him the Twin Cities International Award for his lifetime service to international communities.

"No matter where he was or what he was doing, he was always doing God's work," said King.

In addition to King, Carter is survived by brothers Henry and Robert Carter.

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