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It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my wife of 41 years, Nelda, on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. A shining light has gone dark on this earth, but shines brightly in Heaven with her Lord and Savior, and in our hearts.
She was born Nelda Lee Sterling in Gloucester, Virginia, one of five sisters and one brother. The daughter of a lifelong Chesapeake Bay waterman and a nurse’s aide, she was raised in the Presbyterian Church, as was I. She was born into Severn Presbyterian Church in Gloucester, where she attended until her move to Richmond. She was a member of Tuckahoe Presbyterian Church from the 1960s until her passing.

Nelda and I met in the mid-1970s at First & Merchants National Bank in the trust department. She was easily the most popular girl there, with her deep blue eyes, beautiful smile, and easygoing manner. She and I became great friends, with the same tastes in many things: humor, music, food, love of the water and strong Christian values. She had a strong sense of adventure, but also loved her family and being at home. We were married at Tuckahoe Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, in 1981.

Over our 41-year marriage, we built two houses together, raised our children in our newly merged family, played tennis, raised Labrador retriever hunting dogs and her favorite cat breed, Chartreux. We had three over the years, and they were her constant companions. We spent countless hours on the water, and traveled the United States and the world. Nelda was the epitome of support for me in everything I did and I always tried to be the same for her. I am, and always was, proud to be her husband, best friend and protector, and she never failed to let me know how much she loved me.

Some of the many things that epitomized my wife were her love of the color green, colorful and classy clothes, home décor, her collection of Murano glass clowns (we once traveled by boat to the island of Murano in Italy to add to her extensive collection), countless witticisms, mischievousness, laughing and spending special time with our children and grandchildren. She loved playing cards, mahjong, rolling dice and any other game with family and friends. She loved crossword puzzles of all degrees of difficulty, and she started every day with her cup of coffee and that puzzle (in pen).

She loved astrology, drawing and interpreting astrological charts for her friends and family. She loved watching her bluebird houses fill and empty when the last baby left the nest. Her shopping adventures are legendary. TJ Maxx was an addiction for her and she always came home with the most amazing markdowns on things for us and her friends. She spent many years on the tennis courts at the Westwood Club and at our home. She played league tennis for many years, and loved the mixed doubles we frequently played with our friends.

Nelda and I spent countless hours on our boats in the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean off Virginia Beach, North Carolina and Florida, as well as the Bahamas and the canals of Europe. She frequently helped me move boats from Virginia to Florida and we spent happy times cruising the Bay—just the two of us. She loved seafood and all wild game and was not only glad for me to travel to hunt and fish, but loved what I brought home in the way of fish and game (especially Mangrove snapper), lobster, stone crabs, ducks, geese, quail, and pheasant. She always pitched in and helped clean and prepare the game. She was an excellent cook and appreciated anything wild-caught. You could hear her pounding conch to fry on the back deck when I would bring it back from the Bahamas.

She was a spectacular wife and mother and is loved and admired by our children and grandchildren and she loved showing love to them in a thousand ways. She was incredibly proud of all of them. She loved her church and was delighted that our girls and our granddaughters were baptized there. She never forgot her family in Gloucester and was amazingly close to all of her sisters and brother during their lives. Our immediate family has the same closeness as well and we have spent many hours together at home and on our frequent family vacations. Her intelligence and working history as an executive secretary gave her an extreme appreciation and fondness for grammar. She passed that on to our children and grandchildren. Another love of Nelda’s was all things Christmas and holiday-themed. There were years where the tree that she so lovingly decorated would stay up until the following year, when she would re-decorate it for the current Christmas season. In the last few years, she endured several operations which slowed her down, but she refused to complain. She had the heart of a lion. Up to her passing, she would not let the cancer that finally took her from us quell her independence, humor or love. Nelda loved all music, but at her very heart was her favorite “Annie’s Song” by John Denver. We took our marriage vows while the harp played it.

Nelda was predeceased by her parents, James Edward (Ed) and Ethel Williams Sterling; her sisters, Joan S. German (Guy) and Gloria S. Kilpatrick (Ross), and her brother, James Edward Sterling Jr. (J.E.). In addition to me, William P. Carter, she leaves behind her sisters, Audrey S. Waddle (Travis) and Sandra S. Owens (James); daughters, Rhonda H. Piwowarski (Joe) and Sheryl (“Sherrie”) D. Carter; our son, David E. Carter (JoAnna); grandchildren, Dr. Elizabeth Sterling Piwowarski (“Lilibet”), Tabitha Kelly Piwowarski (“Tabby”), William Scott Jackson Carter (“Jack”), and Benjamin Wilson Carter (“Ben”); as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Our heartfelt thanks to the doctors and staff at Bon Secours Palliative Care and Hospice for their amazing advice and superior care. In addition, our profound thanks and unending gratitude go out to the staff at Community Hospice House in Bon Air for the supreme, thoughtful and loving care given to her during her stay.

Perhaps above all, she was the love of my life and I will miss her with all my heart and soul. I try to take comfort in the fact that she is with our Lord and Savior, where we will meet again. We are all so blessed to have had her in our lives, and know she was proof that angels walk on earth. A service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at Severn Church, 9066 Robins Neck Road, Gloucester, Va. 23061. In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift to Severn Church would be a great remembrance of her.