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Helen E. (Carmichael) Carter

Helen Elizabeth Carmichael Carter, 92, died peacefully at home on May 14, 2010.

She was born on April 19, 1918 in Inchinnan, Scotland to George and Jean Carmichael. When Helen was very young, the family moved to Gorakhpur, India, where her father worked as an erecting shop foreman for the Bengal and North Western Railway. Her sister Elizabeth Ross was born there in 1921.  Eventually, the family returned to Scotland. In 1923 they left Scotland for the USA, joining relatives in the Munjoy Hill area of Portland, Maine. Helen attended the Portland area schools, graduating from South Portland High School. She went on to complete a year of business school before working in secretarial positions for local businesses.

One of the original “government girls”, Helen worked in temporary offices in Washington, D.C. during the completion of the Pentagon. It was here that she met Leland F. Carter of Freeport, Maine, a soldier in the Army Corps of Engineers. They were married in 1944 just before he was shipped to Adak in the Aleutian Islands. While Leland was stationed in Alaska, Helen worked in a bookstore in Portland and as a secretary at the Bath Ironworks.

After the war, the Carters settled in Ipswich, where Leland built their home. Helen became an active member in the community, serving as a volunteer at the Ipswich Public Library, the Ipswich Historical Society, the Quebec Labrador Foundation and Meals on Wheels. She was a member of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the Ipswich Republican Committee, the Audubon Society and the Ipswich Women’s Club. She was an avid reader and birdwatcher.

Helen and Leland had two children: Robin Charles and Sharon Lee. Robin, a Vietnam veteran, married Kathy Riel, and moved to Tucson, Arizona. They have three children: Rebecca and twins Amy and Beth. Helen became a great-grandmother with the birth of Rebecca and Brian Schnackenberg’s children, Katy and Heather.

Sharon married David Grimes and the couple moved to Toronto, Canada, where they had their children Hilary, Madeline and Ross. Helen moved to her home on Toddy Pond in East Orland, Maine, where she spent many happy years entertaining friends and family.

Helen was particularly interested in her family history. Before his death, she and Leland visited cousins in Britain and toured Scotland extensively.  “Sis” (as her parents and relatives always called her) was a founding member of Clan Carmichael. She and Leland were also involved in the very first organizational meetings held at the Carmichael estate in Scotland. She attended many Clan gatherings, both in Scotland and the USA, inspiring her siblings and most of their offspring and spouses to join Clan Carmichael USA.

Helen spent her final years in Ipswich with her daughter and son-in-law. She was passionate about her family, music, literature, Toddy Pond and Scotland. She lived an extraordinary life and was an extraordinary woman - fiercely independent, possessed of a fiery spirit, quick of wit, and always ready. Helen was much loved and will be greatly missed, not only by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but also her siblings, William Carmichael, George Ross Carmichael, Jr. and Robert Carmichael and their families and her many friends. She was predeceased by a sister, Elizabeth Ross Larrabee. Her funeral service was held Monday May 17, graveside in the Cowles Memorial Cemetery, Ipswich. Arrangements by the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association, 311 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA 02472  (www.alz.org) or Hospice of the North Shore 75 Sylvan Street, Suite B-102, Danvers, MA 01923 (www.hns.org) .

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