By Hazel Trice Edney
WASHINGTON (NNPA) Black publishers around the nation are mourning the sudden death of one of their own this week. Houston Forward Times Publisher Lenora “Doll” Carter, treasurer of the board of directors for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and a former NNPA Publisher of the Year, was found dead of an apparent heart attack on Saturday morning, April 10. She was 69.
“It is with a profound sadness that I inform some and confirm for others, the NNPA and the entire Black Newspaper Publishing world’s great loss of our National Treasurer, Lenora “Doll” Carter,” announced NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr. in a statement released late Sunday after speaking to her Houston family by phone. “Yesterday, I spoke with Doll’s daughter Karen and gave her my sincere condolences and offered any help we could provide to both she and her family on behalf of all NNPA Publishers. As was the case with her mother, Karen is proving to be a very strong and poised Black woman during this time of sadness and challenge to her family.”
The body of the Houston journalistic icon will lie in state on Friday, April 16, starting at 12 Noon at Holman Street Baptist Church, 3501 Holman Street, Houston, Texas 77004 with a celebration to be held Friday evening from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. The Homegoing Celebration will be held on Saturday, April 17th at Holman Street Baptist Church at 10:00 a.m.
Karen Carter Richards, the youngest of Carter’s two daughters, associate publisher of the paper who has worked alongside her mother for 28 years, said in an interview with the NNPA News Service that she went looking for her mother after she did not answer repeated calls to her cell and home phones Saturday morning. She found her in her room by the bed. “She was already gone,” she said.
She said her mother had been on a regiment of high blood pressure medication. “She believed in the Lord. That’s what helps me to continue to stand and not completely fall to pieces because all I know is that she would expect me to be there Monday morning and get this paper out like always.” Mustering spiritual strength reflective of her mother’s, she said, “I know my Mom. We have never missed an issue in 50 years and we can’t start now.”
Bakewell, NNPA Foundation Chair Dorothy R. Leavell, and other members of NNPA are shaken by the death of Carter, who less than a month ago celebrated Black Press Week alongside them in Washington.
Leavell, who has known Carter for more than 40 years, persuaded her to run for treasurer in 2003 and nominated her as publisher of the year in 2004, said this week that Carter had hinted at not feeling well during the March 17-19 festivities in Washington.
“She did not go to the Capitol with us this time because she said her feet were swollen and she couldn’t do a lot of walking. But, she did come to the NewsMaker Dinner and seemed to truly enjoy it,” said Leavell.
In their decades of working together as Black Publishers, Leavell was among the eye witnesses to Carter’s soldier- like service to the Black Press. “Doll exemplifies the publisher that is dedicated to the Black press. She is active locally, but also consistently active on the national level through the National Newspaper Publishers Association. She truly deserves this honor, the highest honor bestowed by the NNPA Foundation,” Leavell said of her colleague upon nominating her as publisher of the year.
In addition to being fellow publishers, Leavell quickly pointed out that she and Carter also “shared these serious relationships with our grandchildren. We shared those stories of our grandchildren and we kept up with what they were doing,” she noted fondly. “She will be greatly missed, no doubt about it.”
NNPA First Vice Chair John B. Smith Sr., who worked with Carter during the past four years as chair, also described the dedication of “my good friend and ‘sister in the struggle.”
He said, “’Doll’ was not only a friend toward the advancement of African-American achievement. Overall, she personified distinctive grace, character and style as a ‘chaplain for the common good’ as publisher of The Houston Forward Times.”
A publisher, mother, grandmother, and community servant, Carter was also a devoted wife to James McDaniel to whom she has been married for 22 years.
“I had to share her,” he lovingly recalled in a brief interview Sunday. “I had to share her with everybody. She was not all mine. It took me a little while to get to that point, but that was her.”
With deep admiration, McDaniel described his wife’s love for people from all walks of life. “She could talk with world leaders or she could talk with a guy unemployed. It just didn’t matter,” he said. “If you knew her and you were around her you were not a stranger long…She was like a magnet. People were drawn to her. She had a magnetic personality.”
His sentiments were echoed by her daughter, Karen: “She was so many things to so many people…So much wisdom,” she said. “We talked about anything. She was my best friend, we worked together every day, we traveled together. It is such a great loss.”
The Houston Forward Times, founded by Carter’s late husband, Julius Carter, in January 1960 will be commemorating its 50th anniversary in October this year. Carter had served as general manager and advertising director until his death in 1971. That year, she became publisher and CEO of the company. A biography on the paper’s website, www.forwardtimes.com, lists her numerous awards and accomplishments. It reads as follows:
Lenora graduated from McNary High School in McNary, Arizona and attended Arizona State University majoring in Business Administration.
Mrs. Carter is a member of Eta Phi Beta Sorority-XI Chapter, National Association of Market Developers, National Women of Achievement, National Newspaper Publishers association, Texas Press Association, Greater Houston Partnership, stockholder and presently serves on the Board of Directors of Amalgamated Publishers, Inc. She served as Secretary of National Newspaper Publishers Association for eight years and also served on the Board of Directors of NNPA. She served on the Board of Directors of Riverside National Bank, Riverside General Hospital, Eliza Johnson Home for the Aged, Society for Performing Arts, Independent State Bank, UNCF and YMCA. She is an active member of Holman Street Baptist Church where Rev. Manson Johnson is Pastor.
Mrs. Carter’s accomplishments have earned her numerous awards: Publisher of the Year (NNPA), NAACP Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award, Black Women in Journalism for Outstanding Accomplishment and Achievement in the Communication Industry (Pioneer Award), Alma Newsom Vision Award, NAMD Emphasis Award, Houston Medical Forum Recognition Award, Robert S. Abbott Award, Anheuser Busch W,I.S.E. Award for Outstanding Achievement as Publisher & Community Leader; Fred D. Patterson Leadership Award, Illustrious Potentate’s Distinguished Service Award Doric Temple #76, Ethel Ransom Art and Literary Outstanding Leadership, National Association of Media Women, United Fund Outstanding Achievement in Media, Challenge of Change, Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, Houston League of Business and Professional Women in Achievements, Eta Phi Beta Outstanding Leadership, St. Joseph Volunteer Service Award, Texas State Teachers Association Dedicated Service Award, San Jacinto Girl Scout Merit Award, TSU Tennis Club Leadership Award, as well as South Post Oak Little League Outstanding Sponsorship.
She was recently awarded the Toombs-Brown Award from Professional Black Women’s Enterprise, Inc., and the “Pace Setter” Award from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Gamma Phi Sigma Chapter and received the 2002 National Council of Negro Women Pacesetters Award.
Lenora Carter was born in Corrigan, Texas. She is the mother of two daughters, Constance Yvette Carter and Karen Yvonne Carter Richards. She has three grandchildren, Jesse, Chelsea, and Nykayla. The services are under the direction of McCoy and Harrison Funeral Home located at 4918 Martin Luther King Blvd., Houston Texas 77021, 713-659-7618.