Snowden Carter, 83, editor of Maryland Horse Magazine

February 05, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Snowden "Nick" Carter, a nationally known racing writer and longtime editor of The Maryland Horse Magazine, died of heart failure Thursday at his Owings Mills home. He was 83.

Born Wilton Snowden Carter in Baltimore, he was raised in the city's Pimlico section. A lifelong horseman, he began riding in his youth and participated in local horse shows.

Mr. Carter was a 1939 graduate of McDonogh School, where he was an officer in the school's cavalry. After earning his bachelor's degree in 1943 from Duke University, he went to work that year as a police reporter for The Sun.

"He was given the name of Nick Carter by Clarence Caulfield, an assistant city editor of The Sun, after the fictional detective of dime novel fame," said Joseph B. Kelly, a Sun racing reporter and former colleague. "Some people still called him that."

When a job covering racing opened on The Evening Sun in 1946, it was Mr. Kelly who persuaded his friend to abandon the police beat and take the job.

Mr. Carter, whose articles were published in both newspapers, won the Thoroughbred Racing Association's Award in 1956 for his coverage of the rivalry between Needles and Fabius in that year's Preakness.

In 1961, Mr. Carter began moonlighting as editor of The Maryland Horse Magazine, and a year later left the newspaper to become general manager of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the magazine's full-time editor.

"He took the magazine from a little newsletter and made it the National Geographic of the horse business," said Mike Pons, president of the Maryland Million and an owner of Country Life Farm in Bel Air.

"Snowden was not only a great editor, but he looked like one, too, with his patrician, literary demeanor and shock of white hair," said Ross Peddicord, co-publisher of Maryland Life Magazine. "There was a bit of a flair to him, like he had stepped from the pages of the old New Yorker magazine into horsey Maryland."

Friends recalled that Mr. Carter recognized and encouraged young writers and photographers.

"He assembled a treasure chest of talent," Mr. Pons said. "When he was doing a story himself, he'd immerse himself in the lives of his subjects. He'd settle into a comfortable sofa and get people to talk who would normally never talk to a reporter."

Colleagues recalled Mr. Carter's numerous racing contacts and confidences.

"He was all eyes and ears - at the track kitchen, at the Pimlico Hotel and at the sales pavilion at Keeneland," Mr. Pons said. "He reported it all for the golden era of Maryland racing."

When he took over the magazine, Mr. Carter owned six brood mares and one stallion share and was a member of the board of the breeders association. He and a staff of two put together the magazine in a small office on York Road across from the State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

"They produced a product that breathed the heart and soul of the Maryland horse industry, championing colorful backstretch characters like Mister Diz and Jello Hall and the small owner-breeder who formed the backbone of the industry," said Mr. Peddicord.

During his first year on the job, Mr. Carter played a pivotal role in launching the Maryland Fund program in 1962.

"It was the first program in the county - and it became a model - that paid incentives for breeding horses in-state," said his daughter, Lucy Acton of Lutherville, managing editor of Maryland Horse and Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. "He championed that."

After he retired in 1986, Mr. Carter remained a well-liked and respected racing figure.

"Snowden was an impeccably honest person who was always a loyal, unpretentious and caring friend," said Mr. Kelly, retired Washington Star racing editor and track historian. "He never changed."

Mr. Carter was married in 1946 to Araminta "Binna" Rullman, a social worker, who died in 1995.

Mr. Carter was a communicant of St. Stephen's Traditional Episcopal Church, Mays Chapel and Jenifer Road in Timonium, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 14.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Carter is survived by his wife of eight years, the former Margaret Lickle Cromwell; two sons, Bruce R. Carter of Reisterstown and George R. Carter of Mullica Hill, N.J.; and 10 grandchildren.

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