A long-time Soldotna teacher, Lucretia Mae Carter, who passed away on May 20, 2015, is being honored with a display of her own doing at the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library.
The second grade instructor called Soldotna her home until the last two years of her life.
She managed an accomplished career that she documented in various ways, including preserving the signatures of every student she taught between 1966 and 1985 on plastic dishes called the “Small Fry Plates,” a collection that is now in the possession of the Soldotna Historical Society.
“When you see it, you will like it,” said Barb Jewell, historical society treasurer.
The local organization was given the series, and plans to find other venues to house and display the plates once they leave the library.
“We are just preserving history instead of throwing it away,” Jewell said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we had display in a couple of years from now, and keep reinventing it or re-displaying it.”
While Carter never married or had children, she did leave a network of close friends in the area.
She returned to Oklahoma where her sister cared for her the last 2.5 years of her life, when she had developed dementia, said Joyce Chesney, who knew Carter since roughly 1967.
Chesney laughed when remembering her close friend, whom she said “was a very unique person.”
“She was incredibly intelligent and she had a lot of unusual interests that women didn’t have for her generation,” Chesney said. “I didn’t know a whole lot about her teaching but within the church she was incredibly generous and committed. She gave a lot of money for a lot of different things that our church supported…she was very meticulous about everything she did.”
Chesney said once Carter gave her own plate, which had preserved a drawing of her husband hunting in an airboat, which Chesney later melted in the microwave. She never told Carter of the mishap.
Carter also had a private pilots license, and her blue and white Cessna 172, could often be seen going in and out of the Soldotna airport in the 1980s and 1990s, said another long-time friend Allen Parker. He met Carter in the Lower 48 in the early 1980s just at the end of her teaching career, and right when she began her Masters of Science in aerospace education.
Parker said Carter also sport fished and hunted. He said Carter was well known for the time she shot a moose and brought it back before she had to head to school. She almost caught a record silver salmon, and was a founding member of the Nikiski Nazarene Church.
She became Parker and his wife Oudia’s neighbor after helping them secure the plot next to her home, which Parker said was the first trailer to ever be dragged up the Alaskan Highway.
Carter was also an accomplished seamstress and taught in Australia for a time, said friend and fellow teacher Katie McCloud.
To many of her friends, the plates were a surprise.
Parker and Chesney don’t remember hearing Carter talk about the project, but were glad to hear it had found a good home.
Soldotna Librarian Rachel Nash said the collection showcases the community culture.
“I think it enriches peoples lives,” Nash said. “And one vision of the library is to connect people and this connects us to our past.”
Nash also said she is trying to develop stronger partnerships with other local organizations and this is the first collaboration the library has done with the historical society. She said the plates represent a great part of the community.
“I think it is awesome she (Carter) kept going for that many years,” Nash said.