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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Carter, Francis Graves

by Elizabeth H. Carter, 1979

7 July 1912–16 June 1960

Francis Graves Carter, tobacco company official, was born in Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Va., the son of Claude Cameron and Erla Washington Ramsey Carter.

After graduation from high school, Carter worked in his father's stores; this experience in selling Reynolds tobacco products, coming in contact with the salesmen for the company, first kindled his desire to become a Reynolds salesman himself. He was employed by the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as a trainee-salesman in 1934. After working territories in Winston-Salem, Virginia, and West Virginia, he was made division manager at Concord, heading a sales staff of five at the age of twenty-seven. He was appointed manager of the combined Concord and Winston-Salem divisions in 1942 and promoted to the post of assistant department manager of the Winston-Salem area in 1943; he then served as manager of a department that covered an area northward from the South Carolina line to Baltimore, Md., with headquarters in Richmond, Va. In 1949 he returned to Winston-Salem as a member of the executive sales staff. He was named assistant to the sales manager in 1952 and promoted to sales manager before the end of the year; elected a director and vice-president of the company in 1958, at the same time retaining his post as sales manager; and elected president of the company on 8 Oct. 1959, twenty-five years after having begun with the company as a "foot salesman." An associate described him as "a real developer of men—a challenger rather than a driver."

Not content to confine his talents to his career alone, Carter was a leader in church and community affairs as well. He was chairman of the Community Fund Campaign in Forsyth County in 1959, president of the Winston-Salem Sales Executive Club, and a director of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. He conducted workshops and seminars on sales management in New York and Atlanta, for the American Management Association and served as a member of that association's marketing council. He was a member of the American Society of Sales Executives, an organization made up of fifty of the nation's top sales executives; and he was a Shriner and a member of the Rotary, Old Town, and Twin City Clubs.

Carter attended the First Presbyterian Church, where he served as chairman of the board of deacons and was an elder. He helped to spearhead a movement in the Winston-Salem Presbytery to raise a minimum of $650,000 for the construction of four new churches. Politically, Carter was a Democrat. His hobbies were his home workshop and fishing. On 2 July 1935 he was married to Elizabeth Hamlet of Phoenix, Va. Their children were Francis Cameron, Charlotte LeRoy, and Martin Hamlet.


Family records (in possession of the author).

William S. Powell, Ed., North Carolina Lives (1962).

Who's Who in the South and Southwest (1961).

Who Was Who in America, vol. 4 (1968).

Winston-Salem Journal-Sentinel, clipping library.

Additional Resources:

"Minutes of a Special Meeting of the Board of Directors of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company." June 21, 1960. Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco. (accessed December 30, 2013).

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