Mother, first lady, painter. Born March 12, 1908, in Norton, N.B. Died Oct. 2, 2011, in Fredericton of congestive heart failure, aged 103.
Carrie Guyett was born Bertha Caroline Yerxa to Annie McPhee, a devout Scots Irish Catholic, and Ora Yerxa, a steam locomotive engineer of Loyalist descent. She and her three brothers grew up in the village of Norton, N.B.
After graduating from Sussex High School in 1927, Carrie attended Fredericton Business College, then became a legal secretary.
One Sunday after church, Ray Forbes asked her out on a date. He later proposed and they married in 1930. Carrie and Ray had five children: Marjorie, Eva, Ray, Nancy and Eric.
Through Ray’s service on Fredericton City Council, they met King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during the royal couple’s first trip abroad in 1939. Ray was elected mayor of Fredericton in 1941, serving until 1949. Carrie loved to recollect how New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia hugged and kissed her at a mayor’s convention held in New York.
Ray was only 50 when he died in 1956, leaving Carrie a widow at 48. She resumed her career, working as a secretary at an insurance company, and hit the golf course and curling rink. She joined the Fredericton Society of Artists and blossomed as a landscape painter.
In 1965, former New Brunswick premier John B. McNair, newly named as Lieutenant-Governor, asked Carrie to be his protocol secretary. Her poise and graciousness served her well in a return to public life. She continued in that role serving the subsequent Lieutenant-Governor Wallace Bird.
During a Cape Cod vacation in 1968, Carrie met Howard Guyett, an urbane New Yorker. They married in 1970. They travelled extensively from their home base in Florida, and extended hospitality to family members and old friends. Always a consistent golfer, Carrie carded a hole-in-one at the age of 84.
Howard died in 1992, and Carrie returned to Fredericton. Living to 103 will have its quota of heartbreak. She lost her darling six-year-old daughter, Nancy, to leukemia in 1944. She outlived her brothers and two more children, Eva and Ray. She also lost a granddaughter, Nancy, and a great-grandson, Eric.
While outliving peers and contemporaries, she gained new friends. Always particular about her appearance, she kept up regular hair appointments and dressed well. She was kind and considerate.
Despite her public charm she could be snippy with immediate family members, a matriarch’s prerogative perhaps. Carrie endured the gradual loss of her eyesight to near total blindness from macular degeneration, and the limits imposed by congestive heart failure. She never complained though. At her retirement residence apartment in Fredericton, caregivers were moved by her stoicism and her sweetness. She remained beautiful until her dying breath.
By Eric Forbes, Carrie’s son.
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