Focus on Fostoria - Jun0105

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Published on 06/01/05 in the Fostoria Focus
GFCF makes book on Dick Carter
By LEONARD SKONECKI Focus Correspondent

There’s an old saying: May you live in interesting times.

Fostorian Richard Carter not only has lived in some interesting times, thanks to a lively mind he’s helped make them interesting.

The 84-year-old Fostoria native has given those times a lot of thought and set down his recollections in a book: “An Ohio Boy Grows Up.”

But Dick isn’t just sharing his memories as a scientist, businessman and entrepreneur, he’s sharing the proceeds of his book with the Greater Fostoria Community Foundation.

Dick got the writer’s urge from his good friend Bob Fast.

“Bob wrote a little summary of his life,” said Dick. “I showed it to my wife, Ann. She said, ‘You should do something like that.’ and I did.

“It got longer and longer and some of my friends said I should put it into a book and I did that.”

How did the GFCF come to be the beneficiary of Dick’s venture into the world of writing?

“I talked it over with a couple people who I trusted,” said Dick. “I decided why not just produce the book and donate copies to an organization which would sell them and keep the proceeds. I chose the Greater Fostoria Community Foundation because it cuts across the entire community.”

Dick is familiar with using his creativity to benefit others. He’s an accomplished photographer and has gotten many requests for copies of his pictures.

“I didn’t give my photographs away,” he said, “but I’m not in the business of selling photographs, either. So I would give them to people in return for a promise they would make a donation to Wilberforce College, which I was a trustee of at one time.”

Wilberforce is a small college near Dayton.

Dick has accomplished many things in his life, but this was his first attempt at writing.

“Once I got into it, I enjoyed it. It triggers the brain to remember things you’ve forgotten about. All those experiences are tucked away and writing helped bring them out. It was a pleasant experience,” he said.
In addition, Dick has a favorite author. He’s read everything written by the noted Civil War historian Bruce Catton.

“If you read the book, you can see how I was influenced by him. He is a wonderful writer. He also wrote ‘A Michigan Boyhood.’ It’s a charming little book,” said Dick.

Dick was born Nov. 3, 1920. His grandfather, Emory, lived on Birchard Street in Fremont and was an acquaintance of President Rutherford B. Hayes.

Dick was curious as a young boy. His foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide concoctions were perfect for bothering his sisters and their friends.

He said it was fortunate that his attempts to make nitroglycerin failed. He built his own crystal radio and strung the wires from the top of his house to the steeple of the church across the street to improve the reception.

During World War II, Dick worked for Vought-Sikorsky Co. At first he designed springs, but later became involved in more sophisticated work such as heading a project to test airplanes using telemetering, a technique that enabled designers to collect more detailed information on the planes’ performance.

Later, at the age of 23, Dick also headed up a Vought-Sikorsky team working on American rocket development.

This was in response to the German advances that led to the V-1 and V-2 rockets. Part of that job involved interviewing captured German rocket scientists.

Dick’s work contributed substantially to the U.S. Navy’s submarine-based Regulus I atomic missiles, deployed in the 1950s.

After the war, Dick returned home to become involved in the Fostoria Pressed Steel Co. (Fostoria Industries today). His father, Russ, became an investor and treasurer of the company shortly after World War I.

At one time, Pressed Steel made fenders for the automobile industry. Today, Fostoria Industries is a leading manufacturer of lighting products.

Dick was involved in other local ventures such as Tri-County Bank and Fostoria Distribution.

Throughout his career, Dick’s energy and keen mind has drawn others to him. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Dick to the Business Advisory Leadership Council.

The council was part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty. Dick was one of only two representatives of small business on the council.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Dick to the Task Force on Improving the Prospects for Small Business.

In 1970, he served on the Ohio Constitutional Revision Commission. For seven years, the commission met and studied Ohio’s constitution with an eye to modernizing it. Many of their recommendations were adopted.

Dick and his wife, Ann, were married May 4, 1942. They have two children, Rick and Cyndi.

At 84, Dick still hasn’t completely retired. He is involved in the Fostoria Corp.

“Fostoria Corp. is basically a holding company for a number of other ventures. We are a business farm. We grow companies,” Dick said.

So the curiosity that animated Dick as a young boy interested in chemistry and crystal radios remains strong in him today.

“One of the joys of life is the joy of discovery — finding things out,” he said.

Anyone who reads “An Ohio Boy Grows Up” will find things out, about history and about Fostoria, as seen through the eyes of Dick Carter.

(Dick has donated approximately 400 copies of “An Ohio Boy Grows Up” to the GFCF. He will be at Readmore June 2 from 2-5 p.m. to sign copies.)