Dorothy Carter was fiercely independent. But she never had a driver’s license and never drove a car. For all 94 years of her life, she took public transportation.
“It was her way to stay independent. To do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it and not be bound by anybody’s schedule or feel like she was imposing,” said Dorothy’s son, William Carter III.
On Thursday, Sept. 28, William took his mother Dorothy on one final ride to celebrate her life and the independence transit afforded her.
“I’m just riding all day. We’re taking a farewell tour,” said William as he boarded a westbound Green Line train at Snelling Avenue Station.
“It’s been quite a ride for her,” William said.
With a sign and an urn containing Dorothy’s remains in tow, William boarded several bus routes, the METRO Green Line and the A Line to visit some of his mother’s regular destinations throughout the day.
“Walgreen’s on Snelling. Rosedale Mall. Korte’s. We might stop by Plums for some French onion soup that she liked. I plan on stopping by her doctor’s office, too,” he said.
A resident of the Highland Park neighborhood, Dorothy knew the St. Paul bus routes like the back of her hand. Macy’s in downtown St. Paul was a favorite destination prior to its closing. But she would also take transit across town on occasion. She once took transit from St. Paul to Southdale in Edina to accompany a visually impaired friend (who also did not drive) for a doctor’s appointment.
As a longtime Twin Cities resident, Dorothy always intentionally chose to live near access to transit, and she witnessed firsthand the vast changes in public transportation from the streetcar days to the opening of the METRO Green Line.
In recent years, when Dorothy was no longer able to take transit on her own, she started using Metro Mobility to get to doctor’s appointments, lunches with friends and shopping, up until a few months before she died.
“She’d call and say ‘I took Metro Mobility to the doctor today. And we had the nicest driver and the nicest tour, and I met the nicest person on the bus.’” William said. “She was just very appreciative of everything that was going on.”
She instilled that appreciative attitude and her belief in the importance of transit in her son, an only child.
“She taught me how to sew. How to iron. And how to take the bus,” William said. By the time William was in the fourth grade, Dorothy would send him on the bus on his own to start learning the routes.
“So that’s why I’m doing it. To show appreciation for teaching me the independence of not only how to ride the bus but the importance of it,” William said. “It’s just one final tour to thank her for all the skills she taught me about riding the bus.”