Virginia Ellen Otto Carter died peacefully with family by her side in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on September 13, 2022, at age 99. A Rosary service in her honor will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, September 26, at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church. The Funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall. A Memorial Mass will also be held on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Born January 20, 1923, in Appleton, Wisconsin, Virginia, known as Ellen to some, Mrs. Carter to many, and Nana to her grandchildren, was the middle of three children of George Gerald Otto and Christine Cleveland. Her father, who died in his late forties, ran the Alton Box Board Company and served his country as a “Dollar-A-Year” man helping the government mobilize and manage American industry during World War II. Ellen had fond memories of growing up in Fairmont in Alton, Illinois, with her sister, June McMenamy, and brother John Otto.
Ellen spent her formative years as a weekday boarding student in St. Louis, Missouri, at Villa Duchesne Convent of the Sacred Heart. This education tradition continued with her four daughters. Ellen graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Maryville College in St. Louis. She would use these skills to work with orphanages in the St. Louis area, and when World War II enveloped the country, she contributed to the war effort as a nurse's aide. When Ellen was 18, she met her future husband, Henry King Carter, at a party hosted by her parents. King made a favorable impression on Ellen, quiet, handsome, with piercing blue eyes; he was smitten from the get-go. World War II intervened, and it was nine years before Ellen became Mrs. Henry King Carter. They settled in Ladue, Missouri, where they raised six children.
After the birth of their fifth child, King and Ellen decided they needed a place outside of St. Louis for their children to run wild, and by chance, chose Jackson Hole. Little did they know when they bought their home in Teton Village in 1965 that they would build a life that would anchor their growing family in Jackson. As they continued to bring their children for summer, Christmas, and spring breaks, King and Ellen watched and participated as Jackson Hole grew and their family expanded and settled into the Valley.
In the midst of corralling six children, Ellen was integral to the foundation of Birthright, a Pro-Life organization that continues to support pregnant women in St. Louis. Classically trained, Ellen loved to sing. A devoted Catholic, Ellen was a daily Communicant and served her churches as Lector, Eucharistic Minister, and Choir member and delivered
Communion to the sick. In her later years, Ellen enjoyed oil painting and keeping up with her 6 six children, 15 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Ellen traveled the world with her husband, King. She took her children to almost every Cathedral in Europe, much to their chagrin. But she was game enough to ride a Tuk Tuk around Bangkok at 2:00 a.m., visit Beijing when it first opened to tourists, and travel to Russia at the end of the Cold War. Ellen and King split their golden years between St. Louis, Jackson Hole, and Vero Beach, Florida. She was always a good athlete and a good sport who enjoyed golf, tennis and swimming with her family. Not many golfers can putt from 25 yards off the green as she could. While King was the All-Star in any sport, the grandchildren will tell you they got their competitive spirit from Nana.
Virginia Ellen Otto Carter celebrated over 59 years of marriage with the love of her life, Henry King Carter, who passed away in 2009. They were blessed with a large family, Robert King Carter (deceased 1999), wife Joan (deceased), children Katherine, Jenny, and Kara; Mark Carter (deceased 2011), wife Amy, children Heather, Mark, Courtney, Lauren, Hunter, and Michael; Ellen Carter-Tracy, husband Joe Tracy, children Matthew, Audie, and Phillip; Ann King Carter; Mary Elzemeyer, husband Steve Elzemeyer (deceased 2009), children William and Erich and Jane Carter, husband Kevin Getz, child Jack King.
Surviving, with love and grace, the death of her husband, two sons, and a son-in-law, Ellen was a testament to family, friends, and acquaintances of the power of Faith. An amazing mother, she was elegant, kind, witty, and beautiful on the inside and out. She will be missed by her family, for whom she was the Matriarch and her many friends who delighted in knowing her. The family wishes to thank her friends, relations, and caregivers for their thoughtfulness and prayers. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Turning Point Center of Jackson Hole, turningpointjh.org, in her memory.