Editor’s Note: As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize the contributions of women throughout our community. In this profile, we highlight the inspiring story of Jeanne Carter who has dedicated her life to making a positive impact on our community in several ways. Her unwavering commitment to service serves as a reminder that gender should never be a barrier to making a difference. We hope her story inspires readers to honor the legacy of trailblazing women who have come before us and to continue to fight for gender equality and empowerment for all women.
When elected the first woman to the board of directors for Ohio Valley Medical Center, Jeanne Carter laughed and said, “Can I speak? Or am I just here to make coffee?” Not only did nonagenarian Jeanne speak, she worked to create a legacy in the Friendly City.
Throughout the course of her life, Carter has tackled the roles of counselor, activities director, teacher, mother, businesswoman, farmer, wife, and even WTRF live television chef (while being eight months pregnant!) Jeanne was raised in Pocahontas County, residing in the small town of Green Bank, WV. After graduating high school as valedictorian, Jeanne attended West Virginia University on a full scholarship. There, she met her husband, Harlan “Ted” Carter. During her time at WVU, Jeanne could often be found playing the accompaniment for PE/Health at the rate of $1.00 per hour. “Ted drove the bus out to the farm to take the boys (College of Agriculture students) and only made $0.75 an hour, it almost broke up the relationship! We laughed about that throughout the years.”
Both Carters earned degrees from the College of Agriculture and ultimately returned to Harlan’s family home in Wheeling, The Carter Farm, more aptly known as “Everbreeze.” Everbreeze is located at the top of Edgington Hill and has been in the Carter Family since 1796. “We looked up the deed at the courthouse. At the top of the deed, it states ‘paid for in British silver.’” Harlan and Jeanne were the 5th Carter family to call this estate home. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, Waymarking reports that it is “the oldest single-family farm in Ohio County and one of the oldest farms in the state.” The main home was built between 1848-1852. “It took five days in an outdoor oven without rain to bake the bricks to get ready to build. Every wall was three bricks thick, and family legend states it took three companies to manage running electricity. One company quit, one company started, and one company finally finished!”
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Aside from taking an active role in the upkeep of Everbreeze, Jeanne laid the groundwork for being a Renaissance woman in the Ohio Valley. Once she settled into Wheeling, she worked as a chef for a segment on WTRF. “I was probably the first pregnant cook on their show! I left after Christmas, and my child was born in February. It was quite the experience. I knew that in a half hour, I had to have food to start with, food in the middle, and a finished product at the end. The executives at night found the food, and ate it. I would come in and my food prep was gone! When I asked about it, the executive said, ‘Well, it was really good!”
During this time, aside from giving birth to a son and a daughter, Jeanne and Ted both earned degrees in school counseling and entered the Ohio County Schools system. Champions of public education, Jeanne and Harlan made careers of reaching every student they could, Jeanne focusing her time at Woodsdale and Triadelphia. Jeanne recalls, “I took most pride in these years. If a parent came in and thought their child was or wasn’t getting what they should, we worked through it. I always wanted to see every child get the best opportunity. I wasn’t going to let any child wither on the vine.”
Carter also pursued work on the board for OVMC. “I had worked with the student nurses, so I had the run of the hospital…Everyone was just wonderful to work with.” Emphasizing that people need to be appreciated, Jeanne would even go to the hospital on Christmas Day to personally thank the head and charge nurses. She regularly reminded the men on the board that they were more than welcome to fill her position with a man, but Jeanne found herself returning every year before being elected unopposed as both vice president and president of the board. Prior to the closing of OVMC, long after finalizing her term on the board, Jeanne continued to volunteer and be a presence in Wheeling’s local hospital system.
Carter’s legacy continues to speak for itself as Everbreeze farm is passed down to her children, and ultimately, her grandchildren. Her work in the Wheeling community is lauded as selfless, knowledgeable, and lasting. When asked about advice Carter would give to young families building their own legacies in Wheeling, her continued passion for counseling and education seeps through: “Wherever your child is in school, get involved in the PTA. You want to know what your child is learning and what they are offering your child. I know I’m biased, but get to know the counselor.”
•Karin Butyn was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. A graduate of Wheeling Central, West Liberty University, and Wheeling Jesuit University, Karin spent nearly a decade teaching both English as Second Language and Reading Language Arts. She is currently in her third year as an Assistant Principal for Ohio County Schools. In her free time, she enjoys running and music. She and her husband, TJ, are raising their young sons, Finn and Watson, in Warwood.