Helping families for 130 years

For six generations, Walter Carter Funerals has been a family owned and operated business serving the local community. In an industry that is now synonymous with large corporations, Walter Carter Funerals is an enduring symbol of the importance of one family caring for other families in times of greatest need. Take a walk down memory lane with us.

At the age of 31, Walter Carter (1st generation) made the decision to leave England and bring his young family – wife Eliza and children Annie and Hanson – halfway across the world to Australia. On board the passenger ship Belgravia, they came through Sydney Heads to start a new life on 2 May 1884.

Image: Our founder Walter Carter.
Less than three years after landing in Sydney, Walter selected a site for his new funeral home. The site he selected is home to Walter Carter Funerals today. Originally just a 17-foot wide shopfront, that footprint grew as the business grew in experience and influence.

Image: Our original 17-foot wide shopfront.
After opening his business, Walter’s rise to prominence as a local businessman and community leader was rapid and within a decade he was elected as a Councillor to the Borough of Waverley. And in 1901, Walter was elected to the position of Mayor.

Image: The acknowledgement of Walter Carter's services to the Borough of Waverley.
While his father Walter was working hard to establish the family business, Hanson ‘Sep’ Carter (2nd generation) was throwing himself into cricket. In one of the family’s proudest moments, Hanson debuted in the Australian Test Cricket Team in the 1907/08 season and donned the baggy green for the first time. He was a legendary wicketkeeper who had a style all his own. In fact, it is said that the crouching style we now associate with wicketkeepers all began with the ‘Carter Crouch’.

Image: Test cricketer Hanson 'Sep' Carter.
When Walter died in 1914, his entire estate went to his wife Eliza. However it was Hanson who took up the day-to-day running of the family business. In an interesting coincidence and one that unwittingly predicted the passage of the business through his daughter’s line, Walter made provision that upon Eliza’s death, the estate should pass jointly to Hanson and Annie.

Image: The headstone of Walter Carter's grave.
The death of Annie in 1926, eight years prior to the death of her mother Eliza in 1934, shaped the future of Walter Carter Funerals. She died intestate and her share of the estate passed to her only daughter, Gladys Smith (3rd generation).

Image: Annie Smith.
In 1935, Hanson completed the formal transfer of the now shared assets of the business to Gladys, setting the stage for the introduction of the Smiths into the Walter Carter Funerals story.

Image: The original chapel at Walter Carter Funerals.
Hanson lived a long life, passing away at the age of 70 and leaving his share of the family business to his widow Beatrice and son ‘young Walter’. The Carters and Smiths now held an equal share in Walter’s legacy.

Image: Hanson's son, 'young Walter'.
Beatrice died in 1954, just six short years after her husband Hanson, and young Walter passed away in 1962 without any children. Given that young Walter’s death signaled the end of Hanson’s branch of the family tree, it was agreed the family business would fall to Gladys Smith. That’s how the Carters of Walter Carter Funerals became the Smiths.

Image: Annie's daughter, Gladys Smith.
Gladys and her son Gordon Smith (4th generation) both had an incredible impact on the development and expansion of Walter Carter Funerals as the third and fourth generations at the helm. Central to their plans was not only the rebuilding of the old funeral home, but also a dramatic expansion of the site to accommodate their vision for the business. To that end, five additional shopfronts were secured next to the existing premises and all were demolished to make way for the new Walter Carter Funerals premises.

Image: The Walter Carter Funerals premises.
Walter Carter Funerals had well and truly arrived in the modern era and was set for even greater growth in the future as a result of the forward thinking of Gladys and Gordon. Gladys died in 1997 and Gordon continued to build the business.

Image: Gladys Smith and her son Gordon.
Gordon was passionate about many things in his life – the family he loved, his businesses, the people around him and of course he was almost obsessively passionate about sport. Most of all, he was the consummate ‘people’s person’ and loved socialising no matter when or where. It was a moment of great pride for him when his daughter Dale Maroney (5th generation) became Managing Director of Walter Carter Funerals in 2009, not long before he died later that same year. He knew that the ongoing legacy of the family business was in safe hands with Dale at the helm.

Image: Gordon Smith indulging in his passion for waterskiiing.
We celebrated our 125th anniversary in 2011 – a remarkable achievement. To celebrate the milestone we published our family’s story in Walter Carter Funerals, a history – 125 years of caring for Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. In the foreword to the book, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Member for Wentworth, said: “This anniversary publication honours Walter Carter and his descendants in their caring and steadfast service to the Eastern Suburbs community. It is a celebration also of the enterprise and foresight upon which the great city of Sydney was built.”

Image: The Walter Carter Funerals 125 years anniversary book.
Today Walter Carter Funerals employs a growing team of industry professionals, all of whom are committed to our philosophy of caring for families at their time of greatest need. After 130 years, we remain committed to excellence in everything we do and look forward to continuing to serve the community into the future.

Image: Dale Maroney, Managing Director of Walter Carter Funerals.