Robert Leonard Carter


The world is a little darker today. Robert Leonard Carter, MD, 78, passed away peacefully in the arms of his wife, Ann, in the early morning hours of Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Affectionately known as Bob, he was a firstly and most importantly, a respected physician and devout husband and father, followed by a scholar, a hero, a gentlemen, a proper cowboy, an academic, and an average-ish woodworker.
Born on Dec. 25, 1940, in the desert of El Centro, Calif., Bob was a life-long learner. He graduated from Arizona State University in 1963 as a proud Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brother and student body president and the University of Tennessee Medical School in 1966 with the first of many medical boards. After serving in the Navy as a Lt. Commander at Balboa Hospital as both a physician and overly difficult teacher, he practiced medicine in California until 1983 when he moved to Carthage. He practiced oncology and hematology in Joplin until his retirement on May 22, 2011, due to the Joplin tornado. Following his retirement, Bob was a volunteer physician for several medical missions to Torbeck, Haiti.
He is survived by Ann, his loving wife of 51 years; daughter, Heather and husband, Gabe Castleberry, of Carthage; the lights of his life, grandchildren, Hadlee and Carter; and faithful female dog, appropriately named, Dog, but who answers to Steve. Additional survivors include sister, Terry Gallegos and husband, Paul, of Madera, Calif., dear friends around the world, and the countless lives he saved throughout his medical career. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Kathleen (Stephens) Carter.
His passion for saving lives led him to look outside the confines of possible. He read. He learned. He went to conferences. He stayed abreast of new and innovative therapies. All to make the difference in the lives of the people who entrusted their care to him. He saved many lives and was fortunate to continue to call his patients his friends long after his retirement.
His learning didn't end with medicine. He was a fierce and avid reader throughout his life. Whether it was learning about the sturdiness of Anatolian rugs or what fly to use to catch a rainbow trout, he was always reading. He loved travel, red wine, and Netflix, but not to be outdone by mowing the lawn in his tractor, working in his workshop, planting in the garden, and spending time with his grandkids who called him Poppy and Popsicle, respectively.
He loved to tell his life stories. Many knew that he spent summers as a child working cattle on the family ranch out in the open desert of Arizona and Nevada and that he was a fruit tramp in the summers during college (and lived in a car which he would proudly tell you). His antics were unsurpassed and his wit was quick. He was the Keyser Söze of storytelling; however, his stories were all true! He had rules of life stay hydrated, study hard, save your nickels, limit liability, and don't go to jail. He lived by all of these.
Many will remember him as the white-haired guy in the cowboy hat and red truck who was eternally at Lowe's while others will remember him as the caring voice providing guidance and strength through tough cancer diagnoses. Either way, his legacy will live on for a long time to come in the people who were fortunate enough to know him.
A requiem mass will be held at Grace Episcopal Church at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 where Bob was a long time member. Inurnment will follow the service at the Grace Church Columbarium.
Memorial gifts are suggested for St. Andrew's Hospital in Torbeck, Haiti in care of Knell Mortuary.
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Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of Knell Mortuary.
Published on February 12, 2019
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3 posts

Holly Hukill
Feb 19, 2019
I sometimes miss out on obituaries and I certainly missed this one.
Dr Carter was a kind and caring man and a great doctor. I learned a lot from him when he would make rounds on our floor.
He had a great sense of humor - always commenting on the gowns and how they were quite fashionable! LOL
Many prayers for his family and friends.
JoAnn Wellmeier
Feb 17, 2019
You will be missed.
Linda Duvall
Feb 12, 2019
Thinking of you Ann and Heather....praying for God's Peace....