Frances Louise Carter Vardiman Robinson, 1917-2000

b. Chariton County, Missouri; d. San Diego County, CA


Louise Carter - Teacher in 2 room school house.


Age: 82

English Teacher

State: Missouri, North Dakota, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California

# of Children: 8 (6 lived)

See below for narrative.

Click on Photos to enlarge.


Louise's Parent's wedding photo Thomas Franklin Carter & Grace Caroline Blanchet (2nd cousins)Married 1908

Frances Louise Carter's Birth Certificate
born 30 August 1917

Frances Louise Carter around 1918

Grace Caroline Blanchet Carter holding son Leland Thomas Carter, Louise's older brother, who passed away at 6 1/2 years old in 1918.

1922 - 5 years old

Carter Family
Thomas Franklin & Grace Caroline Carter
Children: Anna, Louise and Frank

1936 - 19 years old

Frances Louise Carter went by "Louise" and loved to dress up!

Louise & Phil's Wedding Photo 15 August 1940

Phil & Louise Vardiman's Wedding Announcement

Thomas Franklin and Grace Caroline Carter, Louise's parents about 1950
Grace passed away in 1962 at 77 years old

Salisbury, Missouri (1917-1940)

Frances Louise Carter was born 30 August 1917 in Salisbury in Chariton County, Missouri to Thomas Franklin and Grace Caroline Carter.  She grew up next door to her future husband, Phil Vardiman, who was two years older than her.  Louise attended teacher's college and after 2 years she moved to North Dakota to marry Phil. She taught in a 2 room school house.

Louise & Phil Vardiman Wedding Day
15 August 1940

Louise & Phil Vardiman

Left to Right: Louise & Phil, Molly & Miles Vardiman (Phil  & Ross' Parent),
Emily & Ross holding daughter, June

Fargo, North Dakota (1940-1941)

Phil got a job working on the faculty at Fargo, North Dakota University for two years.  He worked in the veterinary department opening up dead animals to find the cause of death.  After he had been there one year he sent for Louise and they got married 15 August 1940 in the church parlor in Fargo, North Dakota.  Phil was 25 years old at the time and Louise was two weeks shy of 23. Unfortunately none of the family members could attend because of the cost to go out there.  At that time the typical salary was $75-$100 per month!  The few gifts Louise received at her wedding shower before the wedding are the most special gifts she’s ever received because the family didn’t have much money and it meant a lot to her. (Interview of Louise Carter Vardiman Robinson 25 July 1998 by Michelle Vardiman Fansler)

Kansas City, Missouri (1941-1942)

Phil and Louise lived in Fargo for one year after they got married then moved to Kansas City in 1941 where Phil substituted at Kansas State University for a man who was fighting in World War II.  Phil taught, did research in veterinary science and also did a lot of autopsy's of large animals.  He was very good at diagnosing what was wrong.  A year later the man came back from his end of service in the army and took back his position. 

Louise's brother, Frank Carter, fighter pilot in WWII.


1944 Louise's brother,
Frank Carter married
Mary Campbell

Frank & Mary Carter Family Carol Jean and Mary Ann

Litchfield, Illinois
Veterinary Practice


House in town

123 East Union Avenue Litchfield, Illinois

Larry in front of house outside of town on Sherman Street off Route 66

Litchfield, Illinois (1942 - 1949)

Phil and Louise decided to go into practice and moved to Litchfield, Illinois in 1942.  Phil was in his own veterinary practice for about nine to ten years.  "That was one of the best things we ever did." (Louise Carter Vardiman Robinson, 21 April 1997)  The family moved out of town to a small country house where Phil Vardiman had his private practice.

The Vardiman family of five lived in a relatively small house off highway 66.  They had a big yard with a cherry tree.  There was also a storm cellar for storing roots from the garden and to escape into when a tornado came.  Phil Vardiman had a large building in the back for his veterinary practice with tables and cages.  Litchfield was in a large milk producing area and much of the milk was shipped to St. Louis and Chicago.  Phil and Louise liked to go fishing at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Phil and Louise had a total of eight children, six of which survived.  They ended up with three boys and three girls. 

Marfa, Texas (West Texas) (1949 - 1952)

Larry & Billie in front of House in Marfa, TX

Marfa, TX
Phil, Louise holding Steven, Billie & Larry in front

Marfa, Texas (West Texas)  (1949 - 1952)

Phil’s health was continuing to fail and the doctor said they needed to get to a warmer climate so they moved to Marfa, Texas in 1949 when Phil was 34 years old.  So Phil decided to work on his masters at Texas A&M.  He bought a hay wagon and loaded it with all the families possessions and hauled it behind their old willie station wagon for the 1500 plus mile trip from Litchfield, Illinois to West Texas. 

Phil got a job at an experimental station in Marfa, Texas while he was going to school for his masters in veterinary science at Texas A&M.  The experimental station was on an old airport.  There was a circular drive with a group of buildings, an old barn, an office which was used for the experimental station and two houses.  One house was for the Vardiman family and the other house was for Phil's assistant.

Hundreds of cattle were dying at that time and autopsy's revealed extremely hard, yellow livers. Phil did research to diagnose the problem.  He began to identify all the poisonous plants the cattle were eating out on the range as the source of the problem.  To help educate the ranchers on what the poisonous plants looked like, Phil built "Poison Hill" as he called it in a garden area in the middle of the circular drive which was about  50 feet in diameter.  He brought in dirt and built a little hill then planted all the different types of poisonous plants that he had identified in West Texas. When ranchers came over Phil would take them out to Poison Hill and show them what the plants looked like so they could better protect their Herfer and Long Horn cattle. Phil mixed up a concoction of poisonous plants and fed it to some cattle a little at a time so they eventually were inoculated so that if the cattle ate the poisonous plants on the range they wouldn't die. Phil did his master thesis on his research on the poisonous plants in West Texas.

House in St. Louis, IL

Louise & Phil 1955 in
St. Louis, IL

Vardiman Family in home in St. Louis, IL 1955

Back Row: Billie, Louise holding David, Phil holding Ann Lueece, Larry,
Front Row: Steven & Mary Phil

St. Louis, Missouri (1952 - 1956)

In 1952 they moved the family to St. Louis, Missouri where Phil worked for Ralston Purina as a large animal veterinarian.  On their way to Missouri Louise went into labor and had to be dropped off at a hospital in Hays, Kansas where their fifth child was born.  The family lived with Louise's parents, Frank and Grace Carter, in "Kirksville, Missouri for three or four months to recover from Anne's birth in Kansas.  [Louise] had a blood clot in her leg." (Larry and Billie's comments at 2016 Family reunion in Tucson, Arizona at Anne and Ted Kurtz's house.)

Phil and Louise purchased a fantastic, beautiful house in St. Louis on Dale Avenue in Richmond Heights.  It was about one block from St. Lukes Catholic church.  They lived in that house for about three to four years.  While in St. Louis their last child was born, David.

The house was four stories including the attic and basement.  Larry has very vivid memories of the house.  It had a front porch with a big beautiful glass door with beveled edges.  Inside the door was an entranceway and to the right was a settee and a place to hang hats.  On the right beyond that was a stairway leading to the second floor.  Left of the entrance way was a sitting room with sliding mahogany doors that opened and closed like going into a drawing room.  The ceilings on both floors were 14 feet tall with very fancy wall boards on the floor and ceiling.  In the drawing room to the left was a beautiful ornate working fireplace with white enameled columns.  It had a metal cover to keep out the draft when you weren't using it.  There were also big old casement windows around the room.  Beyond that was a dining room that also had big sliding doors between the rooms to petition them off.  The dining room also had a fireplace on one end and big windows.  Off to the right of the dining room was the kitchen or you could get to the kitchen from the front door by going straight down the hallway.  It was a gigantic farm kitchen with a cupboard off to the side and white cabinets.  There was a big screened in porch in the back.

The second floor had four bedrooms and one bathroom.  The front room was a children's room that looked out onto the street where you could see traffic and buses going by.  There was a wooden window seat that lifted up for storage.  In the back was another children's room which Mom and Dad painted the walls black so the kids could write on the walls with chalk.  The other front bedroom had a fireplace as it was above the drawing room.  The back bedroom on that side had fancy cabinets and closets.  The bathroom had a big tub with a shower.  The porcelain sink was from the 1930's or 1940's and had a column as the base. 

There was a very narrow stairway with only one lightbulb from the second to third floor.  It was kind of creepy to go up the stairs but once you were in the attic it was bright with lights and windows in the front and back.  The attic had sloping ceilings and was one big room.  There was storage up there but still plenty of room to ride a tricycle around on rainy days.

The basement had a coal furnace with pipes running along the ceiling that you had to duck under at times.  There was a coal room and the floor was uneven.  There was also a back door that led outside from the basement.

"Dad often changed the houses we lived in.  Our family joked how we always lived in sawdust." (Larry Vardiman, Glimpses of My Childhood, tape #1B)  Phil didn't like eating in the dining room so he cut a hole in the wall between the kitchen and dining room about a foot high and made a table/bar situation.  Half the family would sit in the kitchen and the other half in the dining room to eat but couldn't quit see each other.  Dad did a similar thing in another house in Pacific, Missouri with a pull down table on a pulley arrangement.

Phil did the carpenter type changes in the house and Louise did more of the painting and papering on the inside.  She wanted the house to look sophisticated and wanted a patriotic theme in the front hallway.  She had Larry, who was in his upper grade school years, fifth-seventh grade, paint the ceiling light blue and use a roller with a star pattern to roll on top.  Then they painted the walls burgundy or dark red with blue stripes running vertically up the walls. We "ended up with a front hall that was very unique with a patriotic theme with stars and stripes and red, white and blue." (Larry Vardiman, Memories of My Childhood, tape #2A)

While in St. Louis, Phil worked for Ralston Purina Company.  He worked downtown at the veterinary center before going to the Ralston Purina farm full time.  He did research projects with cattle.  He got an idea from a Swedish man to operate on a cow and cut a hole in the side of the cow and into the stomach and install a pipe with a plug in it.  He could insert feed into the stomach and see how long it would take to digest food. 

"I remember occasionally helping dad when I was out on the farm when he would remove the plug from that cow.  Unfortunately the cow had built up a bit of steam from the digestion and when he would remove the plug it would squirt all kinds of nasty fluid out of the cow as well as all the gases and stinch that came with it.  Anyway that was quite an experience." (Larry Vardiman, Glimpses of My Childhood tape #1B)

Phil also drove out to the Ralston Purina farm for buckets of raw, non-pasteurized milk on Saturdays.  He would take three gallon buckets and put wax paper with a lid on top.  Some milk still spilled so the car always had a spoiled milk smell.

Moved to Columbia, IL


John Deere Model A Tractor

International Harvester Farmall H


Columbia Illinois, (1956 - 1959)

They got tired of living in the city and decided to move out to a rustic farm in Columbia, Illinois in 1956 where Phil did a lot of fixing up of the place. 

farm was on 102 acres of land.  Fifty of the acres was full of trees and sinkholes and had a creek running through it.  It wasn't possible to farm that area but it was great for rabbit hunting.  The other 50 acres were tillable and Phil and Larry put in hay and corn.  Since Phil was still working full time at Ralston Purina Larry did most of the farming.  He learned a lot about repairing farm tractors and equipment.  "It was a real neat experience.  Probably one of the formative experiences of my life to be able to work on a farm like that and to learn how to do things that you just wouldn't get if you were a city kid." (Larry Vardiman, Glimpses of My Childhood tape #1B)

                The land and two story barn were o.k. but the house was in pretty bad shape.  It was a 150 year old log cabin that someone had put electric wiring in it that ran along the ceiling and down to the switch box.  The prior owners had used the kitchen as a barn for their sheep or goats.  The "first thing we had to do was shovel out three inches of goat manure out of the kitchen.  It stunk to high heaven.  After we shoveled it out, washed it down and disinfected it then we painted it the color mom selected, pea green. It looked pretty sad but it was a gigantic kitchen with a big farm table in it." (Larry Vardiman, Glimpses of My Childhood, tape #1B)  There were only two bedrooms in the house.  Their parents used one bedroom and all six children shared the other large room.  It actually had six beds in it! 

                There was no running water or septic system.  To go to the bathroom required a walk about a block long down to the outhouse behind the barn.  Phil put in a pressure pump system for running water and a heater for hot water.  Then he built a septic system from bricks.  Larry remembers helping dig the hole in the ground and standing at the bottom laying bricks for the septic tank.  "It was kind of a strange way to live but that's the way my dad and mom did it and it worked.  They got it built into a nice home." (Larry Vardiman, Glimpses of My Childhood, tape #1B)

                When Phil and Larry plowed one of the fields for the first time it was rather challenging as the weeds were over ten feet tall in one area as that field had probably not been plowed in over five years.  They used an international club tractor which was actually only a garden tractor with one plow.  Since they couldn't see from one end of the field to the other the "first time we plowed that field the way we had to do that was dad got on the tractor and started at one end of the field and I stood up on top of the tractor and looked at the trees at the other end of the field and told him which direction to head because he couldn't see even if he stood up on the tractor… So I had had to stand up on the hood of the tractor and look out across the field and see above the weeds in order to be able to plow the first furrow straight.  Once you got the first one in it was pretty easy after that." (Larry Vardiman, Glimpses of my childhood, tape #2B)

                It typically took Larry about a month to plow ten acres of land with the small tractor.  There was a steep hill behind the barn and the tractor didn't have enough power for hauling large loads of hay and would buck up in front or slip in the mud.  "Grandma Mollie Vardiman was visiting one time and I was kind of showing off and I popped the clutch a little bit and the front end of the tractor went up in the air like a bucking bronco and she screamed and about scared the daylights out of me from her scream but then it settled back down and we were ok." (Larry Vardiman, Glimpses of my childhood, tape #2B)

                Phil later bought a John Deere model A tractor with a big flywheel and two pistons.  It made lots of different noises depending on what type of terrain it was on and it just kept on going.  One year rain got into the exhaust pipe and into the oil shortly after Larry had overhauled it in shop at school in Columbia.  When Phil started it up the oil was frozen and it burned up the engine.   

House in Pacific, MO


High School Grad 1961

Louise and her brother, Frank at their father, Thomas Franklin Carter's wedding to Mae Dugan.

1964 Carter Wedding with Frank and Louise's families.

High School Grad 1964
with Frank & Mae Carter

Phil & Louise Vardiman Family about 1965

Phil & Louise in backyard in Pacific, admiring a mushroom

High School Grad 1967



Pacific, Missouri (1959 - 1968)

Phil’s health was getting worse so Ralston Purina gave him a job transfer to a research farm near Gray Summit, Missouri.  It was too far to commute from Columbia so the family once again moved to Pacific, Missouri in 1959. 

They bought a house on a dead end street on the East side of Pacific up next to limestone cliffs.  It was close to a factory that made roofing materials, toothpaste and cleanser using ground up limestone.  It was at the edge of town and in the woods.

Louise was working on classes one at a time to finish up her BA and Masters through extension courses out of St. Louis. Larry took a Spanish class with her in St. Louis about one night a week.

Phil died from heart trouble on 23 February 1968 at 53 years old.  Phil and Louise had been married a total of 27 ½ years!

Louise needed to sell the house in Pacific, MO and finish up her schooling quickly as she had no income and no insurance. She may have received some social security checks for the three youngest children who were under 18. Church people donated lots of clothes which they kept in the attic and went through whenever they needed something to wear.

Cape Girardeau, MO in 1969


1969 - Louise

Louise's youngest son, David, a sophomore in high school, acted as an Army Captain who did precision drilling of his troops in the  play Annie Get Your Gun.

Mary Phil
High School Grad Dec 1968


Ann Lueece
High School Grad 1970

High School Grad 1972

Cape Girardeau, Missouri (1968-1972)

      Louise chose a teaching college in Cape Girardeau to be able to finish up her masters and teaching credential quickly so she could bring in some income. She and the three youngest children moved during the summer of 1968.
"It took the entire summer to move, one trailer load at a time, many trips between Cape and Pacific."
Email from David Vardiman 17 November 2010.

     Mary Phil (age 17) attended her senior year in Cape Girardeau, Ann (age 16) entered her junior year and David (age 14) started Central high school there. Louise must have done her student teaching in Cape Girardeau.
Conversation between Michelle Vardiman Fansler and Jeannette Vardiman 17 November 2010.

  "We lived in a rental of a college professor in north Cape, until Mom could buy a house for us. I went to summer school and hated it! I bummed around the summer of 1969 and I believe mom decided I need to go live with your father and mother (Larry and Jeannette the next summer) as they were moving to Colorado.   Following graduation, mom (Louise) got a job teaching 5th grade at a small town south of Cape, Scott City – Ilmo, MO."
Email from David Vardiman 17 November 2010.

     "Mary Phil finished high school in her Sr. year in December of 1968 and went to college for a semester. She ran away with the circus in the fall of 1969, no really she did, just ask her. She got married to a George Campbell and they moved to London, Ontario, Canada. They moved back in with us in our new home in Cape the summer of 1970 or 71." She divorced George and eventually joined the Air Force. 
Email from David Vardiman 17 November 2010.

      Ann graduated from high school in 1970 and was taking classes at the local junior college in Cape Girardeau.  Larry and Steve went to college with Ted Kurtz at the University of Missouri in Rolla. Larry knew Ted from band and Steve knew Ted from engineering classes.  Steve brought Ted home for the holidays. Ted and Ann got married spring 1972 before Louise moved to Fort Collins, CO. Ted & Ann moved to New York near Ted’s parents and sent maple syrup for Christmas. Ann took a course in modeling in New York and dyed her hair blond for a little bit.

     Larry was married to Jeannette and their first child, Michelle, had been born two weeks prior to Phil’s passing at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Kelly was born there in December 1969. 

     Louise displayed a pickled rattlesnake in a jar for years in her homes that David "caught the first time I was in Colorado. Your mom and dad (Jeannette & Larry), you (Michelle), and Grandma Lou and I drove to Colorado the summer of 1969 to allow your dad to interview for graduate school at CSU. We camped the whole way and it was a Loooong trip with so many of us in one car. The girls slept in the car at a rest area near Fort Hays, KS and your dad and I slept on the picnic tables. We then camped in Poudre Canyon for almost a week and we loved the mountains. I remember all of us listening to the car radio while camping in Colorado when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon (July 20, 1969) and did his first walk on the moon. We took a hike and I found this rattlesnake crossing the road. I am not sure if I spent more time running from the snake or the snake from me, but I had a bigger stick in the end, gee I miss that snake, wonder whatever became of him?"
Email from David Vardiman 17 November 2010.

     Larry and Jeannette moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in 1970 for Larry to complete his Masters and PhD at Colorado University and the family lived in student housing for a little bit.  It was a 2 bedroom condo with the bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs.  David lived with Larry and Jeannette’s family for the summer of 1970 between his junior and senior years in high school.  David slept on the couch downstairs in the main living area. David graduated from Central high school, Cape Girardeau, MO in 1972.

Conversation between Michelle Vardiman Fansler and Jeannette Vardiman 17 November 2010.

Fort Collins, CO

David in front of Louise's one bedroom house in
Fort Collins, CO

Louise holding grandson, Tony Alonso July 1975



4 April 1976
Louise with son, David and daughter-in-law, Debra "Debbie" Jo Clarr
on their wedding day

Louise married John Robinson
23 Oct 1976
David & Debbie right front


Fort Collins, Colorado (1972-1999)

     "Steve and I moved mom to Fort Collins, CO in the spring (May/June) of 1972. Steve and Barb were also moving and so we loaded their stuff onto the truck and Barb and Steve drove their car behind us on to Colorado. I had a high school friend join harvest crew with me (Jim Restameyer) and he rode along with me until we both were dropped off in Salina, Kansas to take a bus on south to Altus, OK and meet up with J.L. Thompson my first year working with his harvest crew."  Email from David Vardiman 17 November 2010.

     David graduated from the Cape Girardeau high school in 1972, Larry and Jeannette hooked David up with a Colorado based harvesting company the summer before his senior year in 1971 and Louise with a teaching job in Fort Collins, CO starting fall 1972. David worked harvest crews every summer to pay for college from 1971-1974.

Middle Photo:  Louise taught 7th grade English at Heritage Christian School in Fort Collins, CO. By that time Larry and Jeannette were renting a house at 501 Columbia, Fort Collins , CO. Larry was attending Colorado University and working as a research assistant. He was also in the Air Force reserves once a month.  All the Vardiman kids worked their way through college.  Louise lived at Larry and Jeannette’s house the summer of 1972 while they took a trip to Illinois to visit Jeannette’s family in August. When Larry and Jeannette's family got back Louise had found a cute little one bedroom house that she moved into.  It had a lilac bush outside the front door. 

Right Photo: Mary Phil married Lupe Alonso. They were stationed in London, England for three years. Tony was born in England in 1975. Louise went out to visit them in July when Tony was 6 months old. She was in England during the 4th of July and literally wore a revolutionary outfit including a hoop skirt to celebrate the American holiday.

      David rented a basement room while attending college at Colorado School of Mines from his future wife's parents in Golden, CO while she (Debbie) was away attending Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington Illinois, majoring in education and minoring in music. She graduated the spring of 1976 and did her student teaching in Golden, CO. David and Debbie met when she came home for the holidays. David stayed at Louise's house a lot on weekends and holidays but it was only a small one bedroom place so he probably slept on the couch.

Conversation between Michelle Vardiman Fansler and Jeannette Vardiman 17 November 2010.

"Debbie and I were engaged in the summer of 1975 and I went to work with Amoco Minerals in Prescott, AZ, my first summer in the industry."

Email from David Vardiman 21 November 2010

Robinson House in
Red Feather, Colorado


Louise & John Robinson

Louise & John Robinson

Vardiman Family Reunion 1987 in Colorado

John & Louise Robinson with Phil & Louise's Children minus Mary Phil

John & Louise Robinson with Phil & Louise's Grandchildren minus Tony

    Louise remarried in 1976 to John Robinson. They were married 23 years until his death in 1999. John and Louise Robinson built a house in Red Feather, Colorado and lived there for many years.  In the winter they traveled in a 5th wheeler down to Texas by the Mexican border.  They lived in a nursing home in Fort Collins, Colorado near the end of their lives.

Charlotte Russe Pie by Louise (Larry's Favorite)

Charlotte Russe
Backside of recipe card

Charlotte Russe Recipe
(Click on image for
printable copy)

Wedding Gift to
Michelle Vardiman Fansler from Louise


Chicken and Dumplings

Grandma Lou's secret for Chicken and Dumplings:

1. Use Canned Chicken Broth in crockpot instead of water.

2. Use Canned Chicken Broth in separate pot on stove for dumplings instead of liquid from crockpot as that's a bit greasy.


1997 John & Louise Robinson visiting
San Diego, Ca for Great Grandsons' dedication

Back Left to Right:
Larry, Jeannette, Michelle, Victor, Spencer Sabine(Laura's dog), Laura, John, Kelly, Louise holding Carter, Daniel

Louise passed awayy
17 February 2000

Louise spent the last year of her life at her oldest son, Larry's, house in San Diego County, CA

Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Pacific, Missouri

Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Pacific, Missouri



San Diego, California (2000)

Louise spent the last year of her life living at her oldest son, Larry's, house in Santee, San Diego County, California.

Written by Michelle Vardiman Fansler compiled from interviews of Louise Carter Vardiman Robinson and Larry Vardiman's Glimpses of my childhood cassette tapes

Copyright 2017