Gay rights activist Carter dies suddenly

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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AMHERST - One half of Atlantic Canada's first legally married gay couple has died.
Norman Carter, 72, of Amherst, passed away suddenly at his home on Monday.
"We're all in a state of shock right now. We just can't believe this happened," Susan Reid, chair of Cumberland Pride said Tuesday. "I knew he hadn't been feeling well and he was a little quieter than normal over Christmas, but none of us thought this would happen."
Carter made headlines in October 2004 when he and his partner, Gerard Veldhoven, were legally married soon after the Civil Marriage Act was passed. Prior to their marriage, they had been together for 30 years.
"They were one of the first openly gay couples in the area and were very proud of it," said Reid. "Throughout the years they overcame many obstacles and saw many changes, thus working together to enable people in our area to see them say and realize, 'Hey, we are people too.'"
Reid said Carter and Veldhoven were instrumental in developing awareness, education and acceptance of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community and are considered the founding fathers of the Cumberland Pride group.
Longtime gay rights activist Rev. Eldon Hay, who will conduct Carter's funeral service, said none of what has been accomplished in recent years would have been possible without him.
"Gerard was the one who was front and centre, but Norman was always there behind the scenes and always supportive," said Hay, who helped establish PFLAG chapters for parents and friends of gays and lesbians in Amherst and Sackville, N.B. "He was a great storyteller, a great cook and a great friend and we're all going to miss him so much. That couple has been so active in championing gay rights and they have been very public about it."
Hay called Carter a pioneer in gay rights in that he and Veldhoven were openly gay at a time three decades ago when being so was very difficult.
Carter was a member of the Knights of Columbus and worked for Capitol Theatres and Canadian Tire. He was the co-owner/operator of Carvel Upholstery and Draperies and was a supporter of Live Bait Theatre in Sackville.
A memorial service in Carter's honour is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. in the chapel at Campbell's Funeral Home in Amherst with a reception to follow at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Donations are being accepted at any TD branch to the Norman Carter Memorial Fund.

Organizations: Knights of Columbus, Canadian Tire, Live Bait Theatre Campbell's Toronto-Dominion Bank Norman Carter Memorial Fund

Geographic location: AMHERST, Atlantic Canada, Sackville

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