Landon Harold “Bing” Carter, a hall of fame auctioneer and founder of the Johnson County Fair 4-H Livestock Auction, passed away March 10 at the age of 95.
Carter, a long time fixture in the Gardner community, was born Jan. 4 1917, in Blairstown, Mo., to Homer and Bess Carter.
He was the third of seven children.
Carter was nicknamed “Bing” as a toddler when he tried to pronounce the name of a neighbor’s dog, “Bingo.”
Carter’s family inherited a large farm near Green Ridge, Mo. in 1923.
Carter’s father was a livestock dealer during World War 1, and Carter regularly accompanied his father to livestock auctions.
“I loved that auction chant,” Carter told The Gardner News in 2009. “I would go home and sell our cows and livestock on the farm to my younger brothers and sisters in our barn for play.”
During a high school agricultural vocational class in 1934, Carter and his classmates were brainstorming ways to earn money for a trip to the American Royal in Kansas City.
Carter suggested an auction, and volunteered to do the selling, as he had been practicing his chant.
The auction ended up raising $24.80 through the sale of items donated by local businesses and residents.
Carter graduated high school in 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression, and decided to move to California and look for work in 1937.
His first job was with a company that made interiors for automobiles.
Carter was staying at the home of a married couple while in California.
The couple’s niece, a teacher from Holton, Kan. had also moved to California looking for work.
Carter married the niece, Dorothy Brown, in 1942.
Carter said he never liked working for someone else, so he quit his job and went into business for himself operating a service station in Maywood, Calif.
Also during that time, the Carters had two children.
“That service station was a real success,” Carter said. “I purchased a new car, had a new house built for my family, but I still longed to be an auctioneer.”
Carter’s wife became homesick for Kansas and moved back with the two children in 1950 while Carter stayed behind to sell the house and the service station.
Later that year, Carter attended a two-week auctioneer school in Decatur, Ind.
Upon his return to Kansas, Ray Sims, an auctioneer friend, recommended that Carter start selling in Johnson County because of the abundance of dairy farms there.
“I didn’t know a soul,” Carter said. “So Ray introduced me to a friend of his, named Smitty. He had an auction barn off of Old 56 Highway in Lenexa. I volunteered to work the ring and take bids every Friday for no pay, just so I could get some experience.”
To make ends meet, Carter got a job driving a delivery truck, which consumed his time when he was not working auctions on Friday.
Soon after, Carter decided to make auctioneering his full-time career. He earned $1 per auction in the early days.
“I was starting to make a name for myself,” Carter said, “and people were starting to get to know me.”
In 1956, Carter approached the Johnson County Fair Board with the idea of having an annual 4-H Animal Auction during the fair.
The board launched its first animal auction the following year, and Carter served as auctioneer from 1957 to 2005.
In 1969, Dorothy passed away from a brain tumor and kidney failure.
In 1973, Carter married Maxine Jennings.
Carter estimated that he had presided over more than 7,000 auctions in 43 states during his career.
His work resulted in him being inducted into the National Auctioneers Hall of Fame, Kansas Auctioneers Hall of Fame, Missouri Auctioneers Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Fair Association Hall of Fame.
Carter served as president of the Kansas Auctioneers Association for two years and on the Board of the National Auctioneers Association for eight years. He also taught auctioneering from 1978 to 1998.
Hall of fame auctioneer Bing Carter dies