Carter Headlines Kennett Chamber Banquet

Thursday, March 26, 2015
Rector native Bill Carter recounted his fascinating life during the annual Kennett Chamber of Commerce Banquet Monday night, March 16, at the American Legion Building. Carter has crossed paths with people as diverse as John F. Kennedy, the Rolling Stones and Billy Graham. Also pictured is Kennett mayor Jake Crafton (left) and past chamber president Moses Porterfield. (DDD photo/Steve Patton)

A Rector native who has crossed paths with a mind-boggling number of celebrities and politicians told his story to those gathered for the annual Kennett Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet Monday night, March 16, at the American Legion Building.

"Kennett is like home too," said Bill Carter. "I was born and raised in Rector, but when I was kid, you came to Kennett for everything."

Carter, who now resides in Nashville, Tenn., has rubbed elbows with people from John F. Kennedy to Billy Graham. The list was long of famous and even some infamous people whom Carter has represented as an attorney, manager, or worked with in some way: Steve McQueen, Jimmy Hoffa, David Bowie, the Bee Gees, the Guess Who, Tanya Tucker, Reba McIntyre, Waylon Jennings, Ronnie Milsap and Bill Gaither are just some he mentioned.

Carter had time to tell stories about only a few of the people with whom he has worked. It was obvious that Kennedy made the biggest impression on him. Carter was a member of the Secret Service during part of the Kennedy Administration. He remembers the day of Kennedy's assassination well. He was at lunch with a group of agents when he got the news. "My duty was at the White House," he remembered. "I was on duty when President Johnson arrived, and I remained with him until 2 a.m. I returned to the hotel where I was staying and barely had time to call home before being called back to the White House at 4 a.m. to view President Kennedy's casket with his family and staff. I remained with the coffin and with the family until burial in Arlington Cemetery. Those four days still haunt me and will until I die."

Of all the people Carter has met, he said Kennedy had the most magnetic personality. "His charm disarmed and overwhelmed you. A blue blood by wealth and education, JFK could have been a common man and could have passed for a native of Kennett, Mo."

For several years, Carter has been involved with Bill Gaither, producing many of the popular "Homecoming" shows. One of the shows was about the music that inspired Billy Graham. Carter wondered why no video biography had been done about the most popular preacher of the 20th Century.

Although he was told it was a long shot, Carter proposed to the preacher's son, Franklin Graham, that Gaither produce the biography. "Two weeks later, Franklin Graham called me and said his dad had agreed that Gaither would be the company to produce the story of his life. I spent the next five years working with Billy Graham. We completed "God's Ambassador: The Story of Billy Graham's Extraordinary Life and Ministry" in 2006. Carter added that Graham is in very bad health, and TBS is poised to air the video biography upon the evangelist's death.

Those comments led Carter to share some of his life philosophy. "Don't be afraid to ask. The worst thing is a no, but you might get a yes, and you'll never know unless you ask."

While fearlessness and instinct are important ingredients to a successful life, so is faith. "I never planned anything in my life. It's all been an unexpected journey through some of the most exciting landscapes. I could have never imagined this when I was in school in Rector. Choices and opportunities crossed my path. What to do? I have always prayed for divine guidance."

Carter encouraged Chamber members to be open to guidance and prepared for what comes their way. "Each experience has value. Each day brings an opportunity for you to improve yourself, help someone, and make an impression."

Carter's life is an example of the advice he gives.

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