Saturday, June 15, 2013
MILTON-FREEWATER — McKenzie Marly was hesitant, but this appointment was more important than her temporary discomfort.
“My dad did this, so my sister and I are doing this,” she said, shifting from foot to foot.
A year-and-a-half after her father, Cecil “Rob” Carter, was gunned down, honoring him has become second nature to the Milton-Freewater businesswoman — every weekday starts with opening the doors of the plumbing business he built from scratch.
Marly is now doing something else her father did — appearing in calendars to raise funds for social needs. And neither appeared in their photographs as, shall we say, fully dressed for work.
Zipped into a winter jacket over mud-smudged overalls, Marly peered right, then left, down the country road running past the C. Rob Carter Plumbing Inc. building, where accused murderer George W. Craigen shot her father to death Dec. 30, 2011, when Carter threw his body over an employee to protect her.
Satisfied the coast was clear, Marly accompanied photographer Megan Hoel to the blossom-festooned orchard next door, unzipped her outerwear and prepared to get to work. In the chilly spring morning, Marly’s upper body was soon dotted with goose bumps under the barely covering overalls.
As the hoot of a train in the distance provided background, Hoel quickly snapped her camera to capture Marly’s smile before any unwitting passersby caught a glimpse of the nervous subject.
Hoel, of Megan Hoel Photography, had sent Facebook feelers out several weeks earlier, gauging local interest in raising money to support breast cancer care. Her friend Marly was enthusiastic of the idea from the beginning, the photographer said. “We’re trying to set it up similar to what Rob did.”
Eight years ago Carter bared mostly all for a calendar titled “Visions of the Valley — Up Close and Personal,” masterminded by Milton-Freewater attorney Chris Wallace. The project, featuring Walla Walla Valley men in the buff — with swimsuit areas covered by the tools of their trades — raised $17,000 for Milton-Freewater’s annual Junior Show, a May weekend for Future Farmers of America and 4-H kids to exhibit projects.
Carter was featured in the month of January 2006, standing in the evergreen trees behind his shop, a hefty wrench on his shoulder and a pipe threader accessorizing his farmer’s tan. The 50 year old posed just yards from where his daughter now stood for her shoot.
Marly and her sister, Morgan Allen — who will also model for Hoel’s project — recall that time their dad stepped out of his clothes and comfort zone for the cause.
“He used to say that we sometimes have to do things that are a little uncomfortable,” she said. “They’re harder to do, but necessary.”
It was her father’s nature to do anything for anyone, whether it be laying down his life or taking the shirt off his back, but Marly and Allen approached Hoel’s idea with caution.
“We were real stressed out about it,” Marly said. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, you have to do it because your dad did it.’ But you never know what a calendar like this might bring out.”
Misgivings, however, must take a back seat to raising awareness, she added. Not only has her family seen plenty of cancer, Marly has the future of daughters, Ashlyn, 11, and Ally, 9, to consider.
“This is very important,” she said. “My dad was the most discreet person you’d meet in your life, so if he could step outside his comfort zone, we can do this.”
Hoel, too, is shooting, organizing and marketing the calendar as a personal blow to cancer.
Her father, Jim Hyndman, died in 2000 from chronic lymphocytic leukemia when Hoel was 16.
“I grew up near Hanford, where it seemed like we lost a lot of our parents due to cancer,” she said.
Not before her father passed on to her the art of photography and community service. He was a self-taught camera fan, known for shooting pictures at kids’ sporting events for the fun of it and always making sure he made prints for parents at no cost, Hoel said.
“He would love this calendar,” Hoel said. “It’s for a good cause. It was never a money thing for him and you know, we’re donating all of the proceeds.”