Bona alumni step up for late Silver Creek grad Carter
In the midst of yet another outstanding men’s basketball season, St. Bonaventure University’s biggest assist may have come off the court.
And, as a result, one of the Bonnies’ all-time greats — George Carter — will receive the proper burial he so richly deserves at the cemetery across the street from the Olean campus.
The list of people who are making it happen shows just how much the Silver Creek native and former American Basketball Association star was appreciated. In that group is former St. Bonaventure player and coach Jim Baron.
“Jim Baron had learned of George’s passing, and on Nov. 30 alerted folks in our athletics department and alumni office,” said Tom Missel, St. Bonaventure’s chief communications officer, in an email earlier this week.
With the wheels in motion, Missel said, Baron and fellow alumni Dale Tepas (from the 1970 Final Four team) and Erick Handler of the YES Network “spearheaded efforts” to work with the Dropping Dimes Foundation. Located in Indianapolis, the foundation works with ABA players who have fallen on hard times.
Carter, who battled cancer that left him unable to work — he was a limousine driver in Las Vegas — was on the verge of being evicted from his apartment when the organization offered to help with his medical bills and a down payment on a new place to live.
Sadly, Carter died Nov. 18.
But the story does have a feel-good ending.
“The beauty of it, to me, is that it was organic,” Missel said. “Our alumni learned about George’s passing, reached out to us, told us they’d be happy to raise the money for the transport of his remains and the headstone, and we were happy to provide a proper service for George,” Missel said.
Carter’s story also gained national attention in the USA Today and was picked up by the Indianapolis Star, which resulted in even more alumni reaching out to help, Missel added.
“That’s just who Bonnies are,” he said. “They care about each other, even if they might have graduated many years apart.”
Carter, who was drafted in three professional sports and was selected to St. Bonaventure’s All-Century Team, hardly needs an introduction.
Upon graduating from Silver Creek Central School, Carter scored 1,322 points and averaged 19.4 points per game in three seasons with the Bonnies. He ranks fifth in rebounds with 849, including a career-high 305 in 1966-67. His 12.4 rebounds-per-game average is second only to Bob Lanier in school history.
“A good friend suggested, quite publicly, that George is the best athlete in Bonaventure history, and he took a lot of heat,” Missel said. “But I think he’s absolutely right. Of course, Bob Lanier was the best basketball player here, but he didn’t get drafted in three sports.”
That all-around athletic talent made Carter an easy choice for induction in the Chautauqua Sports and Greater Buffalo Sports halls of fame.
“I’m so happy to hear St. Bonaventure is doing this for George,” said Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame President Randy Anderson. “I had an opportunity to talk to George several times prior to his passing and I know he was suffering. It’s just wonderful that St. Bonaventure would take the effort to give an appropriate resting place for George.”
Missel said that the service date for Carter is still up in the air.
“We’re not sure if we’re going to wait for the weather to break and do a COVID-restricted service, or wait until the pandemic is over, hopefully late this summer, to allow more people to attend,” Missel said.