Influential local photographer and advertising executive Peter S. Carter died last night after a fall on the stairs of his Victorian home. A gifted strategist, he advised valley political and business leaders and operated a successful advertising agency for many years, reinventing himself as a photographer of social events as the industry changed.
A co-founder of the Los Gatos Social Club, the witty and worldly Carter frequently entertained at his historical home in the downtown Los Gatos Broadway neighborhood, where he maintained an impeccable garden.
Carter, who was born in San Diego, had turned 70 on February 20. He attended Bellarmine College Preparatory school in San Jose and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
His advertising agency was located in two historic mansions at N. First Street and Hobson streets, near Japantown, and was variously known as Carter Callahan, Carter Waxman and Carter Israel. He kept a signed photograph of Ronald Reagan on the wall, and his clients included everything from boutique brands of Mexican beer to technology firms and large commercial developers. He did pro-bono work for numerous local causes and organizations, most recently photographing last weekend’s annual gala for the San Jose Rotary Club, of which he was an active member.
Carter was a founding shareholder of both the original Los Gatos Weekly and the Metro publishing group that publishes three weeklies and is an owner of San Jose Inside. When they were just ideas, Carter lent his name, held receptions and helped put together the investment groups to launch the two media companies.
Carter was involved in the elections of San Jose Mayors Tom McEnery and Ron Gonzales. “He had a lot of political knowledge and opinions, and was always willing to help out,” said former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery. County Supervisor Mike Wasserman, a neighbor, said this morning that he was “shocked and devastated” by Carter’s sudden passing. “For 29 years, Peter has been not just a friend and neighbor, but also a mentor and colleague.”
Carter had a keen eye for discovering and hiring emerging advertising talent, and many of his former employees went on to start firms of their own.
He is survived by sons Scott and Shawn, his wife Dennise McNulty Carter, and four grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Alameda Family Funeral Home.