Community remembers veteran advocate Robert Carter

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Some people do big things in life and make sure you know it.

Others change the world from behind the scenes.

Robert Carter was the latter.

He died in a crash in East Texas on November 26.

And whether you know it or not chances are he impacted your life or the life of someone you love.

"We all want to make a mark on this world, and Robert Carter made his mark, he made a big one," said DeLisa Russell, director of Veterans One Stop in Waco.

You could find Robert "Popeye" Carter in the office every time the doors were open.

As chaplain of Veterans One Stop, he helped build the non-profit geared toward helping veterans into what it is today.

Russell said, "we've been inundated with calls from so many different people from so many walks of life that have a story to tell about Robert Carter, what he meant to them, and what he meant to the veteran community."

But now his office sits empty.

"It's difficult to walk over to that door right now and it be shut," Russell said.

Russell says she lost a confidant, powerhouse co-worker and trusted friend.

And the veteran community lost someone who truly understood them.

Robert was a Vietnam era and Gulf War vet himself.

"He was actually the person who got to make that judgement call, is this person needing a gas card, is this person needing assistance here," she said, "Popeye, would find a way. If a veteran needed somethng, he would find a way. That veteran may never know it came from Robert Carter, but he would help provide a solution."

Russell told us, "he sustained a lot of physical issues as a result of him serving in the Gulf War, and he was very passionate about making sure that Gulf War illness was recognized and veterans like him were getting the asistance they needed."

Even on those days he was in pain he would come to the One Stop and work from his big easy chair, tackling a myriad of projects, some you've probably encountered yourself.

Russell said, "I'm not sure everyone in the city of Waco knew who was behind the largest Veterans Day parade in the nation. It was Robert Carter."

And Robert openly shared his faith.

Russell said, "he knew a lot of people were dealing with their own moral injury, and he wanted them to have something they could believe in."

"I have been fortunate enough in my life to have some very good friends," Bill Mahon told us, "I had a closer relationship with Robert than I had with anybody in my family."

Community veterans advocate Bill Mahon was one of Robert's closest friends.

Health issues have left Bill in need of consistent medical care and Robert never forgot him.

"There are too many ways I can go to talk about Robert and his goodness," Mahon said, "before he went on vacation he made a stop to bring me some banana bread, and said making sure you have enough banana bread until we get back."

The two worked tirelessly together on veterans' issues.

On Veterans Day this year they were a part of a very special wedding.

Bart and Lynn Smith were reunited through Vietnam documentaries produced by KWTX and Bill and Robert were there for the special day.

Robert officiated.

Now members of the community say goodbye to Robert "Popeye" Carter, carrying with them his legacy of quiet service and hoping they too can make the world a better place.

Russell said, "I absolutely believe that even though he's not in that office he will be looking over the One Stop, he loved this place and we loved him."

"Whatever happens after you die," Bill said, "if there's a place made for you, they've been working on Robert's place a long time because he earned it a long time ago."