Kenneth Woodruff Carter, a beloved figure in Stamford, Connecticut, was born on January 23, 1889, to Galen A. Carter and Barbara Margarette Morgan. His father, an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of Fairfield County, and his mother, the daughter of the Hon. Henry A. Morgan, instilled in him a sense of responsibility and service to the community from an early age.
In his youth, Kenneth showed a keen interest in firefighting, often buffing alarms of fire in his neighborhood, regardless of the hour or weather conditions.
Kenneth Woodruff Carter’s life took a surprise turn when, at the age of 25, he decided to abandon a well-paying career in Wall Street to pursue his passion for firefighting. This audacious move, reported in major newspapers across the country, garnered attention and often led to gentle mockery from some corners.
In a time when financial success and stability were highly valued, Kenneth’s choice to leave the world of finance for a job as the Assistant Electrician in the Stamford Fire Department, with an annual salary of $900, seemed unconventional to many. However, those who knew him closely understood that his decision was driven by a genuine love for firefighting and a deep desire to serve his community.
Despite the occasional jests from outsiders, Kenneth’s dedication to the Fire Department and his commitment to Stamford never wavered. His passion for firefighting and the sense of fulfillment it brought him overshadowed any doubts or criticism that came his way. Over the years, as he became a respected figure in the firefighting community, people began to understand the noble reasons behind his career shift.
As time went on, Kenneth’s remarkable contributions to the Stamford Fire Department and his valuable service to the community silenced any doubts about the wisdom of his decision. The gentle mockery eventually gave way to admiration for his selflessness, bravery, and unwavering dedication.
Kenneth’s dedication to the Fire Department and the safety of Stamford was unwavering. During World War I, he interrupted his firefighting career to serve with Company “G” of the 315th Ammunition Train, 90th Division. He served his country with honor and bravery before returning to his beloved city. Shortly after his return from the war, he officially resigned from his paid position with the Fire Department.
On June 9, 1920, Kenneth married Barbara Jeannette Morgan, the daughter of Henry and Helen Smith Morgan, in her hometown of Albert Lea, Minnesota. Together, they shared a blissful life in Stamford, where they eventually settled at 107 Glenbrook Road.
The couple was blessed with two daughters, Ann and Barbara. Ann went on to become Ann Carter Murphy of Branchville, NJ, and Barbara became Barbara Carter Potts of Sherborn, MA. Kenneth and Barbara were loving parents and doting grandparents to their six grandchildren.
Kenneth’s service to the community extended beyond his role in the Fire Department. On January 1, 1930, he received his first appointment to the Stamford Board of Public Safety, where he continued to demonstrate his commitment to ensuring the city’s safety and well-being.
One of Kenneth’s significant contributions was championing the acquisition of modern firefighting equipment for the Stamford Fire Department. On March 25, 1935, he recommended the addition of 12 new firefighters to the ranks and the purchase of a new Seagrave pumper engine, which was duly delivered to the department on April 25, 1935.
His dedication and knowledge in firefighting matters earned him respect and he became a prominent figure in Stamford’s civic welfare.
Throughout his life, Kenneth never forgot his love for Stamford, and his devotion to the community remained steadfast. He lived in the city his whole life and was known for being a true gentleman. In retrospect, it is evident that Kenneth Carter’s decision to follow his heart and embrace a career in firefighting was not only a personal triumph but also a significant gain for the Stamford community. His story serves as a reminder that sometimes, the most fulfilling and meaningful paths in life are the ones chosen with the heart, even if they differ from conventional expectations. Kenneth’s legacy is a testament to the impact one individual can have when they pursue their passion and dedicate themselves to the well-being of others.
Tragically, Kenneth passed away on February 4, 1961, leaving behind a legacy of service, dedication, and love for Stamford. He was laid to rest in Woodland Cemetery alongside his beloved wife, Barbara, who had passed away on August 21, 1971.
Kenneth Woodruff Carter’s commitment to his community, his role in shaping the Stamford Fire Department, and his service during World War I are all testaments to a life well-lived, filled with honor, dignity, and a deep affection for his native city. His memory continues to live on in the hearts of those who were touched by his unwavering sense of duty and compassion.