Bud Kennedy

For Amon G. Carter III, a Lucky find and a lesson on life and giving

Amon G. Carter III's family has told Fort Worth's story for 100 years, and now he has a story to tell Fort Worth.

The son and grandson of Star-Telegram publishers was facing his own cancer diagnosis when he found a tiny, just-hatched baby starling lying almost lifeless outside his New Mexico home.

He decided to save one life.

For three months in 2014, he fed and nurtured the baby bird, and the story is now a children's book raising money for Fort Worth charities: "Saving Lucky."

Unsure of his own fate and facing months of treatment, he devoted several hours a day to raising one little bird and sent it back into the heavens.

(But not before Lucky learned to trill to Fleetwood Mac.)

"Both of us got saved," said Carter, 62, author and publisher of the book subtitled, "A Bird's Tale."

"It taught me to see all the little things in life that we think are so simple, but they mean so much. … If you can save a life, that's a big deal."

He was driving on Camp Bowie Boulevard when he had the idea for a Lucky book.

He stopped at a gas station and jotted down rhymes on an envelope:

"My name is Lucky

And I'm born to fly

Today was different

Because I fell from the sky."

"I wanted to remember Lucky in some way," he said.

"I had no idea how to write a children's book. I just thought, 'Pretend you're a rapper,' and I started writing verse."

Local artist Melissa Kohout helped with illustrations — Lucky became TCU purple — and Cynthia Wahl designed the book. But progress has been slowed by Carter's treatment.

He is cancer-free now and promoting the $19.95 book to raise money for Cook-Fort Worth Children's Medical Center, the Fort Worth Zoo and the Tarrant Area Food Bank (savinglucky.org).

"When I found Lucky, it was the trip where my voice started getting raspy," he said.

He was diagnosed with a throat and neck malignancy.

"Then I found him, and he was motionless — dehydrated — he didn't lift his head for days.

"I had to make a quick decision. Either I was in on saving this little bird, or I was out. I made the right decision."

Carter shared video of himself feeding Lucky with an eyedropper, playing with Lucky and singing together to Fleetwood Mac.

Carter has led a low-profile life in Fort Worth and New Mexico, studying and teaching aikido and occasionally dabbling in Southwestern art.

He was 26 in 1982 when his father, Star-Telegram publisher Amon G. Carter Jr., died. A brother, George, died in 1992.

"I've made some mistakes and been in some rough spots in life sometimes," he said, "but I don't plan on going back."

When he started talking about Fort Worth, he sounded more than ever like his father.

"I'm a proud Fort Worthian, and we've got a great city and a great mayor," he said, referring to Betsy Price.

"You won't find anywhere in the world where they have the cultural variety we have here — from the great art museums (including his family's Amon Carter Museum) to the Stockyards and Billy Bob's."

At the book's end, Lucky says:

"So in the end,

"When it's all said and done,

"You have given your best

"And know you have won!"

"I don't know what I'll be remembered for," Carter said, "but maybe this will be part of it."

Both were lucky.

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