Former state Rep. Bill Carter — whose legislative work helped Texans carry concealed handguns and be required to buckle up in the front seat of cars — died this week, according to friends and colleagues.
He was 89.
Carter, a long-time insurance agent, served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1984 until January 2003.
The Fort Worth Republican was matter of fact when announcing his legislative retirement.
“There’s always a time and place,” he told the Star-Telegram at the time. “There’s going to be a time somewhere down the line where you wear out.”
Funeral arrangements were pending early Friday.
Carter, who at the time was one of Tarrant County’s longest serving House members, said his greatest achievement in office was helping modernize the state’s 911 emergency call network — and helping pass the state’s concealed handgun law, which was groundbreaking in 1995.
Also on his résumé was working to help pass in 1985 a law requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts, former staffer Amber Ray said.
Carter was well known by many and easily recognizable.
“Carter, a native of Dumas in West Texas, has an almost intimidating physical presence — he stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and has hands like baseball mitts,” a Star-Telegram article in 2001 noted. “He recalls shaking hands once with famed former boxer George Foreman of Houston.
“He said Foreman did a double take when he saw Carter’s immense hands, and Foreman said: ‘Hey, you’re the first man I’ve ever seen that has a hand bigger than mine.’ ”
Ray kept in touch with Carter after he left office. He was, after all, her insurance agent. And her friend.
“His heart was as big as he was,” said Ray, who now works with state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who represents the same district Carter did. “I don’t think I ever saw Bill in a bad mood.
“He was a good man, very compassionate.”
Then-Gov. Rick Perry was among those who praised Carter when he announced his retirement, calling him a “dedicated public servant.”
“Since 1984, Bill Carter has solidly represented the people of his district,” Perry said. “However, his work and accomplishments in the Texas Legislature has touched the lives of all Texans, especially in the area of education, economic development and public safety.”
Klick said Carter will be very missed.
“He was fully loved,” she said. “I don’t know that he ever had any enemies.”