MYRTLE BEACH—Joseph Loyd Carter, 74, a commercial real estate broker, developer and conservationist, passed away on Aug. 29. 

Joe was born at the Brooklyn Naval Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, on March 1, 1945, to Loyd and Anna (Walsh) Carter.

Joe grew up in Beech Island and graduated from Aquinas High School in Augusta, Georgia. He received a bachelor of arts in history from the University of South Carolina, becoming the first in his family to obtain a college degree. Having graduated college in the midst of the Vietnam War, Joe enlisted in the United States Air Force on the deferred enlistment plan. On his drive to Officers Training School in San Antonio, Texas, he stopped in New Orleans to have a drink at a bar when he met another young man on his way to the same place—Eddie “Catfish” Boling and Joe finished the rest of the road trip together, and became lifelong friends. 

With the 62nd Tactical Airlift Squadron, Joe flew C 130s all across Europe, the Panama Canal, and elsewhere. In late 1971, Joe was transferred to the 1st Air Commando Wing stationed at the Ubon Air Force Base in Southeast Thailand. With the 16th Special Operations Squadron, he flew combat missions in Laos and Cambodia. In 1973, Joe received an honorable discharge from the Air Force as a captain. Never forgetting the friends he lost in the war, Joe led efforts to erect the Vietnam Vet War Memorial in front of the former Horry County Courthouse in Conway and chaired the Horry County Vietnam Veterans.

After returning home to South Carolina, Joe began his career in real estate. He worked at a construction company in Hilton Head before being hired by Chicora and obtaining his real estate license. In 1974, Joe was recruited to work for Sands Investments, which was looking for someone with construction and real estate experience and with a pilot’s license. Joe worked with Sands for 20 years and eventually became its director of development.

In 1999, Joe and two partners, dear friend Rusty Helm and Joe McGroarty, opened their own commercial brokerage firm, Keystone Commercial Realty. Over the span of nearly 40 years, he developed innumerable condominiums, hotels, golf courses, shopping plazas, and residential communities, from Atlantic Beach to Hilton Head. Examples of his projects include Sands Village, Gator Hole Plaza, the Grand Prix race tracks, and Pawleys Plantation. 

Joe was not your typical commercial real estate developer—he dedicated much of his time outside of his development work to preservation and conservation efforts. Joe was most proud of his role in preserving Sandy Island, which in the early 1990’s was threatened by planned construction of an interstate highway slated to cut through the island. When Joe learned that none of the developing entities had talked to the residents there—all of whom are direct descendants of slaves—Joe went to Sandy Island and asked the residents if they wanted the island to be developed or to stay the way it was. The resounding answer he received from the residents was that they wanted to retain the idyllic and secluded nature of the island. As the chair of a taskforce for the Department of Natural Resources, Joe took an outspoken stance against the development, and persuaded the rest of the taskforce to follow. In the subsequent years, Joe helped to negotiate the purchase of Sandy Island by the state department of transportation in what has been called “the most cost-efficient wetland mitigation in the U.S.,” and to establish the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge as a natural buffer around the island—all of which secured the future of Sandy Island. In 1995, Joe received the National Wetlands Conservation Award, a South Carolina Wildlife Federation Award, and was named the Historic Ricefields Association Conservator of the Year. In 1997, he received the Coastal America Award and the Sierra Club Award.

In his community, Joe was a member of the Masonic Order, American Legion, the Briarcliffe Acres Association, and the board of trustees of Coastal Carolina University, which is commemorated by a street on campus named after him, “Joe Carter Way.” Joe’s deep voice accented by a Southern drawl was unmistakably his own. He loved to “blow the stink off” by spending time outdoors planting sunflowers and soybeans for the doves, admiring the trees, and calling to the birds.

Above all else, Joe was a family man.

He was a fierce protector and confidante to his two girls, Whyte Sellers and her husband, Eric, and Juliana Carter, and adored his grandson Clayton. Joe has left an enduring imprint on the hearts of many and the Grand Strand community.

A memorial service was held Sept. 8 at the Lackey Chapel at Coastal Carolina University, Conway.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Grand Strand Miracle League, PO Box 7503, Myrtle Beach, SC 29572 (https://grandstrandmiracleleague.com/donations/ or to the preservation efforts for Sandy Island through https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/south-carolina.

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