Strong roots: Seymour woman celebrates 100th birthday

Jackson County’s newest centenarian doesn’t have any advice for anyone seeking to reach that same milestone.

Florence Amelie Carter, in fact, said she wouldn’t have lived her own life any different.

“Everything worked out pretty good,” said Carter, who was born April 26, 1917, in Flackville on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

On Wednesday afternoon, she celebrated her 100th birthday with an open house at Lutheran Community Home in Seymour, her home for the past eight years.

Carter’s parents, Emile Corboz and Amelie Stuby, emigrated from Switzerland in 1907. They weren’t married but emigrated together, she said.

Emile’s family owned grape arbors on a hillside that flowed down to Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Carter said.

“My dad came over here because he didn’t want to work in the grape arbors anymore, and he was the only boy in the family,” Carter said.

Carter’s youngest daughter, Susan Diane Paige, said there’s a couple of other reasons why her grandparents decided to come to America.

“He was an adventurer, and he did like to travel,” Paige said. “Her mother (Stuby) came over with her father (Corboz) because he came over here.”

After venturing to America, her parents lived briefly in Vevay in the southeastern part of Indiana.

“That’s because he was from Vevey in Switzerland,” Carter said. “He didn’t like it there, so they moved to Illinois.”

Carter’s older sister, Elise Marguerite Corboz, was born April 20, 1910, in Greenville, Illinois. Sometime after her birth, they moved to Indianapolis, and Florence was born.

Her family then moved to the Riverside area in Indianapolis before moving to Roosevelt Avenue in the Brightwood area on the east side of Indianapolis. Florence was 5.

“My dad briefly worked at a florist shop,” Carter said. “Then he started his own landscaping business and named it the Swiss Landscaping Co. He had a little truck.”

Both sides of the truck had pictures of his family’s grape arbors in Switzerland.

He would own that business for the rest of his life. During that time, he planted and cared for the grounds of the home which would later become the governor’s mansion.

Corboz died at the age of 86 in January 1969 in Indianapolis, while Carter’s mother passed away in 1954 in Indianapolis. Her sister died in January 2007 in Wheeling, Illinois.

Carter remembers a lot about her father including her strict upbringing.

“He was a Christian who didn’t believe in movies and such stuff,” she said.

That didn’t stop her from sneaking out of the house and going to a theater on Roosevelt Avenue with a girlfriend who also lived on Roosevelt Avenue.

“Of course, he caught me,” Carter said. “He just didn’t believe in things like that. My dad was a wonderful guy.”

Her mother only lived with the family until Carter was 9.

“When I was 9 years old, she lost her mind,” Carter said. “In those days, they put people in asylums. They put her in Central State Hospital on the west side of Indianapolis, and we visited her every Sunday.

“We all think she became feeble — but didn’t lose her mind — because she left eight brothers and sisters (in Switzerland) and never saw them again.”

Carter graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in 1933 and had a chance to go on to college after receiving a scholarship to attend what was then known as Butler College.

“But I didn’t go,” she said. “I met a young man right down the road from me. We got married, and I had three girls. I think I was 21 when I got married.”

Besides Paige, her other daughters are Judith Lynne Corboz and Gail Annette Dearie, who lives in Florida.

Carter and her first husband later divorced, and she was forced to work two jobs to raise her daughters.

“I did office work,” Carter said.

Paige said her mom worked her way through school learning shorthand and other skills needed to run an office.

“I finally worked for the state Department of Agriculture,” Carter said.

While working there, Carter met her second husband, T. Volney Carter, a Seymour farmer and seed producer.

Volney, a Republican state senator from 1953 to 1965, was chairman of the senate’s standing agricultural committee.

Carter said she worked closely with him, and they then became romantically involved.

“He was interested in me,” she said. “He brought me flowers. He was 20 years older than I was. Consequentially, he was kind of like a father to me.”

The two were married in 1961 and moved to Seymour.

Volney owned the land on Seymour’s far east side where the Travel Centers of America truck stop is now located.

The Carters lived in the farmhouse he grew up in until 1967 and then lived in a house he built just north of what was then the Stardust Drive-in Theater. The property is now the home of The Shoppes of Seymour.

Volney continued to stay active in politics and farming.

“He had a big farm and had people working for him,” she said.

After moving to Seymour, Florence took a job with the state Department of Agriculture in Columbus at Bakalar Air Force Base, which allowed her to help pay for Paige’s way through college.

“I worked there for seven years before retiring,” she said.

Carter became active in the Pine Ridge Extension Homemakers Club and the Jackson County Extension Homemakers Past Presidents Club.

She also joined and became active in the All Seasons Garden Club and was a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program.

“Right from the beginning, I was one of the first presidents,” she said of that program. “It was very, very fun.”

The Carters also traveled a lot after moving to Seymour, going on People to People Tours, especially right after she retired for good.

They visited Japan, Austria, Korea and other places.

“They would go visit farmers in other countries to check out different techniques,” Paige said.

Volney died May 23, 1985, and Florence lived in the house until 2008 when she moved into assisted living at Lutheran Community Home.

Carter still has a driver’s license and owns a car.

“I don’t have any problems,” she said. “I used to drive all over the country. I even drove in Switzerland.”

The Florence A. Carter

Name: Florence Amelie Carter

Age: 100

Birth date: April 26, 1917

Birthplace: Flackville

Church: Reddington Christian Church

Parents: Emile Corboz and Amelie Stuby

Spouse: The late Thomas Volney Carter

Children: Judith Lynne Corboz, Gail Annette Dearie and Susan Diane Paige

Grandchildren: Three

Great-grandchildren: Four

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.