Return to Class of 1966

Leland Carter04/14/2021
Leland (Lee) Dee Carter was born April 1, 1948, in Knoxville, Iowa to Alberta (née Onstank) and Lloyd Carter. Lee adored his two younger siblings, Monte and Melissa (Missy). His father instilled a strong work ethic early in Lee’s life and his mother taught him the value of love. Both of his parents emphasized the importance of family. He attended Knoxville High School and graduated in 1966, playing in the marching band as a letterman.

Lee’s life is a testament to bravery, generosity, and love for others. As a child, he contracted polio but was graced with a full recovery. Despite the horror and pain of the disease, some of Lee’s fondest childhood memories included family gatherings in his hospital room to watch television and enjoy family time.

He was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War on April 18, 1968, and served with the 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery. He deliberately reenlisted after the end of his first tour of duty and earned the equivalent rank of a Technical Sergeant (SP4 (T)) in service to his country. He was honorably discharged on November 22, 1969.

Moving back to Knoxville he quickly fell into the muscle car craze of those days. He purchased a 1970 Chevrolet Nova SS, which he religiously raced at Eddyville (and other less … legitimate … venues) and continually tinkered on. The Nova was his pride and joy and made it possible to meet the woman who changed his life.

Like a moth to the flame, the young, beautiful Linda Nadine DeZwarte was drawn to the devastatingly good-looking and charismatic guy with the hot car. A romance was sparked and it wasn’t long before both of them forever fell in love. After a short courtship, they were joined in marriage on December 26, 1970, and lived a happy, hippie-inspired life together as a young couple, enjoying time with friends and family, while planning their lives together.

After the birth of Christopher Lee in 1972, then Jacy Lyn in 1974, they moved to their “forever home” on Washington Street. Here, the family continued to grow, first with Briane Dee (1979), then Lindsay Deanne (1983), and finally—not to mention a bit surprisingly—Anthony (Tony) Dean (1984). Many cherished memories were forever created in that home for family and friends.

Lee worked for the family business with his father-in-law, Kenneth (Kenny) DeZwarte, then later Firestone Tires in Des Moines, supporting his family and ensuring no one suffered from wanting and all dreams came true.

He was a hard-working man, dedicated to exceptional craftsmanship, and never shied away from any task. In addition to his “jack of all trades” skillset, Lee was also an expert carpenter, a skill learned from his father. He was devoted to the fight for labor rights and a proud member of the USW Local 310, for whom he was a steward for many years.

He was always present and supportive at any number of the multitude of activities that his wife and children were involved in; there to lend a comforting hand, words of support, and his uniquely calming quality. His wisdom was beyond his years; his demeanor was definitively “laid back”; his acceptance of others—regardless of race, beliefs, or walk-of-life—was absolute and defining. Many of his children’s friends consider Lee as a “second dad” and were equally supported in their endeavors, as well.
Lee Carter
After retiring from Firestone in 2010, Lee purchased a home in Des Moines to be closer to his family. He continued to live his life vicariously through his children and grandchildren, as well as enjoying his varied collection of eclectic things and an ever-expanding catalog of music, and a library of historical books.

Because of a life-long cigarette habit, Lee’s health steadily declined. He was diagnosed with COPD in 2016. Over the years, despite his perpetual discomfort and pain, he never complained, choosing to savor the time with his family and the memories he was creating for us all to nurture forever.

His battle with the disease ended on April 14, 2021, at 10:45 a.m., at the beautiful MercyOne Johnston Hospice Care facility. He peacefully surrendered to his next adventure, surrounded by his family and an abundance of love. He was preceded in death by both his parents; his brother; his father-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Barton Oldham. He is survived by his sister, Melissa Gray (née Carter); his former wife, Linda DeZwarte-Carter, his five children: Christopher Carter and Catherine Hennessey-Carter with their children Avery, Regan, and Luca; Jacy Carter with her children, Alex and Hunter; Briane Carter and Dennis Kline, Sr.; Lindsay Carter and Jeff Raymond with their children, Adam and Jewels; and Tony Carter and Taylor Dixon with their daughter Zayla.

Services will be announced at a later date.