Sara Lou Harris Carter a pioneer as model and Guyanese ambassador’s wife

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An obituary from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.

Sara Lou Harris Carter of Bethesda, Md., known for her pioneering role as an African-American model, died at her home in Bethesda, Md., on Dec. 16, 2016. She was 93.

Carter, daughter of James W. and Esther P. Harris, was born in Wilkesboro on July 4, 1923.

She graduated from Lincoln Heights High School in Wilkesboro and taught at Lincoln Heights Elementary School for a year after graduating from Bennett College with a bachelor of arts degree in Greensboro in 1943.

Carter left her teaching job to enroll in Columbia University in New York, where she earned a master’s degree.

While working her way through school in New York, the Branford Modeling Agency signed Carter as a model in the 1940s.

As one of the original “Branford Lovelies,” she became the first black woman featured in the New York buyers’ fashion show. This led to a similar first as a glamour girl on Lucky Strike cigarette posters for a nationwide ad campaign. In numerous published accounts, she was credited with breaking racial barriers in these roles.

Carter also appeared on radio and was a night club entertainer.

She met John Carter, a barrister (attorney) and politician from British Guiana (now Guyana), while in that South American country to participate in a fashion show in 1958. They were married in 1960.

John Carter was appointed a queen’s counsel in 1963. Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain knighted him in 1966, entitling his wife the right to be called Lady Sara Carter.

Lady Sara (originally Sarah) Carter accompanied her husband when he represented Guyana as ambassador to the United States from 1966 to 1970, and in the following 13 years as commissioner (ambassador) to a succession of other nations.

Carter owned and operated the Sara Lou Charm School for Girls in Guyana, teaching girls about poise and proper etiquette.

She appeared on the covers of over 25 magazines, including Ebony, Jet, Tan and Hue.

She is survived by her and her husband’s three children, Robin Marston, John Carter and Brian Carter, and several grandchildren.

The funeral service was held on Dec. 29 at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church in Chevy Chase, Md. Interment was at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in the Chevy Chase area.

One thought on “Sara Lou Harris Carter a pioneer as model and Guyanese ambassador’s wife

  1. Really weird. A long long time ago, my father took me to a function – where Sara Carter met and shook hands with the guests one by one. She shook my father’s hand and mine. I remember she wore a turban, she was slim and beautiful. It is only looking at the photos and learning that she was married to the Guyanese John Carter. My parents were also from Guyana but my brother and I were born in London. What a small world.

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