Stuart Vries Carter

August 17, 1940 - June 19, 2022
Stuart Vries Carter


Stuart Vries Carter, age 81, eased on down the road on Sunday, June 19, 2022, in Wilmington, NC. 

He was born on August 17, 1940, in Newsoms, VA. His mother, Anna, was an English teacher – a remarkable feat for a Dutch woman who arrived in America speaking no English. His father, Beale earned a living buying peanuts in the fall and selling fertilizer in the spring. Inspired by their example, Stuart earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Richmond.

After practicing law for many years, Stuart decided to pursue his real love: building houses with Habitat for Humanity. His specialty was applying the hammer, and his claim to fame was that there wasn’t a nail in existence that he couldn’t bend. He helped build over 125 houses, becoming famous – some would say infamous – among his “H-H tribe” and other friends for his frugal ways. He and his wife Karen built three houses for themselves; in building the third, Stuart demonstrated his unique funds-conserving skill by building the bathroom cabinet with brightly multicolored palettes scavenged from the roadside. His favored mode of economical travel was the ‘cottage’: an ancient camper that the couple pulled behind their truck, as they traveled the country for their ‘walkabouts’.

But Stuart could splurge when the occasion called for it. He and Karen spent twenty winters in Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of a wonderfully loving and large community. He was especially liberal with funds when not picking up the tab: When a friend asked for help to build a small gardening shed, Stuart designed and constructed the Taj Mahal of sheds, forever after known as the Shed Mahal.

Stuart’s tastes in food, entertainment, and drink derived from his southern roots. He loved Karen’s home cooking. He was devoted to rock and roll and Memphis blues – songs he described as “crying in your beer” music. And he was an ardent student of that refreshment. He kept a beer journal, comprising labels peeled from bottles, placed in a notebook, with tasting notes. 

Stuart was, in sum, a singular and generous person who will be missed by a multitude of friends, family, and acquaintances. Stuart is survived by Karen, his wife of 36 years; his son, Stuart Junior and partner Kirsten Barnett of Louisville, KY; granddaughters Anna of Louisville, KY and Samantha of Raleigh, NC. Predeceased by his brother Beale, he is survived by nephews Beale, Prince, and John, and his favorite niece Anna. 

For anyone wishing to make a memorial, Stuart would undoubtedly be grateful for contributions to Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity (www.capefearhabitat.org).

Share memories and condolences with the family by visiting the Tribute Wall below.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403 910-791-9099.

Tribute Wall

Please feel free to sign the guestbook or share a memory



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • December 04, 2022
    Jay Barnes says:
    It doesn't seem right that the planet doesn't have Stuart wandering around on it with Karen in tow. I loved your observations on everything. You had a wicked sense of humor. You made Karen laugh and you made her happy, and you know that was of prime importance to Linda and myself. Because Karen is special. And she chose you and that made you special to us. I so regret not seeing you in the last several years; it truly is my loss. But know that your turntable is still turning; vinyl still sounds better than any other medium; you have the best taste in music; and I didn't realize how much I miss you. Love from Linda and me. I know you'll tell those folks upstairs what you think.

  • August 17, 2022
    Mary Maier says:
    Stuart Carter, if I had one wish today it would be to call you to wish you a Happy Birthday. Well, I'm making a phone call to the universe to send you a message to tell you how much I miss you and how blessed I am to have had you in my life. I miss your crazy-ass stories, your sharing of the music playlist that defined so many beautiful times in your life, your willingness to taste mezcal and make funny faces for us to photograph, your sense of adventure and your love of life, people, animals, and your beautiful and loving wife, Karen. I'll sip some mezcal in your honor later today, pretend that I didn't like it, and send you love to wherever in the universe you are bending nails. I miss you dearly Stuart Carter!

  • August 01, 2022
    Louise Bevan Stewart says:
    Stuart was one of the first people I met our first winter in Oaxaca. I was lucky enough to have rolled out my mat beside him in yoga class. Over the season we shared many groans and a few laughs. What a truly delightful man! Always ready with a hearty greeting and his magnetic smile. My husband, Steve, also knew Stuart through the pool league where he was also greatly admired for his quick sense of humour and gracious ways. Stuart will be sorely missed in our Oaxacan community. We can hold close the blessing of knowing such a lovely soul. My heart goes out to you, Karen, and to his family and friends.

  • July 13, 2022
    Anne Bryant says:
    Karen - I am so sorry about Stuart. You know that you and I kept him and HB young! So happy for your wonderful time together. Prayers for all of you. Anne Bryant

  • July 13, 2022
    Anita McCormick Pugh says:
    Karen, Although I didn't see Stuart often, I always knew the two of you were off making your life together. In our two years of high school at Southampton we found a kindred appreciation of the quirky world around us. I can't imagine the world without Stuart. When you feel like talking, I would love to hear from you.