The Story of J. Carter Brown
1987 – 2001
“To everything there is a season and a time
to every purpose under the heavens”
Life was just beginning for J. Carter Brown, a happy, outgoing, vibrant and handsome 13 year old, whose life ended in a most unusual way and at an already difficult time for his family.
The son of a certified social worker/minister, Billy and his wife Nancy, Carter was family oriented and was very involved in his church’s activities. Living in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, he enjoyed the life of a small town boy and had the good fortune of belonging to the South Congregational Church in Concord. At a young age, Carter learned the importance and value in helping others, so he was more than willing to volunteer his time and services with a smile on his face. In fact, he was the first and only male member of the church’s Guild!
Among the activities which Carter enjoyed, a favorite was visiting his grandparents in Virginia. “Cold Spring” ...the 860-acre family farm...gave Carter and his little sister, Elizabeth, freedom to roam. He loved to ride an old green tractor his Grandpa had bought years earlier. Every visit was a happy adventure, although not every visit was for pleasure.
On May 4, 2001, Carter’s grandmother, Elizabeth, died at the age of 81. Because he knew where his grandmother was, Carter was in peace about her death, but was naturally sad that he’d never see her again. Her funeral was held on May 7, 2001 at After returning to the farm, Carter put his Grandma’s memorial folder in his pocket, changed into his jeans, and headed off for a ride on his favorite tractor.
Because Carter was a regular pro with the tractor, no one worried about him. As time went by, from minutes to hours, everyone figured he needed to be alone for awhile. But after several hours, Billy and Nancy figured he’d lost track of time, so they decided to walk the farm to find Carter riding atop the tractor. I wish that’s what they had found. Instead, they found the tractor tipped on its side on a hill and Carter lay dead 20 feet away. The tractor had evidently rolled 40 yards down an embankment, fatally injuring Carter’s internal organs, before resting on its side a few feet away.
I was called by a funeral director at McCoy Funeral Home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He had just finished the funeral of Carter’s grandmother, and now he had to bring her dead 13-year-old grandson to the Funeral Home for preparation and transportation back to New Hampshire. While he was incredulous about what had happened, he managed to explain the situation to me. He told me how polite and handsome Carter was, and that he was just talking to him in the limousine a few hours earlier. We were both concerned for the family, but especially Carter’s dad. We asked each other, “How could he lose his mother and then, on the day of her funeral, lose his only son at the age of 13?” Life didn’t seem fair. Despite our sadness, we knew we had a job to do and we tended to the business of ensuring a smooth transition from Virginia to New Hampshire, where I would begin to coordinate a fitting tribute and farewell for Carter.
Once the travel logistics had been arranged, I set up with Billy and Nancy, to meet the following day. It’s impossible to explain ho