Aug. 11, 1924 — April 7, 2019
When she was a girl, Fay Cameron Harter's older sister Frances used to pay her a few cents to make her bed every day.
"And then later my mother became a banker, so it all made sense," said her daughter, Lois Slade.
During World War II, Fay's high school sweetheart, George P. Harter, who was serving in the Army in the South Pacific, sent part of every paycheck to her and she banked it for him. When he returned home, they put off marriage until he had a stable job and could support their family.
Mrs. Harter died April 7, 2019, in the family home built in 1955 in the Town of Tonawanda by her father, husband, brothers, brothers-in-law and family friends. She was 94.
She was born in Hamilton, Ont., the daughter of Richard Angus and Katherine Kirkpatrick Cameron and sister of James M., Roberta, Orin, Frances and Richmond. The family moved to the United States shortly after Fay's birth, and their father, who was an inventor, owned Dick Cameron Hardwood Floors.
In 1943, she graduated from Kensington High School, where she studied business and was on the honor roll. She later attended Millard Fillmore College at the University at Buffalo.
In high school, she met George P. Harter, who was also a neighbor. "They were about 14 or 15, and he was standing outside their house leaning on a tree or something," said their daughter Kathleen H. Radetich, "and my grandfather asked him, 'Why are you hanging around here?' He wanted to see Fay, and either my grandfather invited him in, or he had her invite him in, for cider and doughnuts."
"They were together all through high school, and then of course when he graduated he went off to war," said Kathleen Radetich. "He would send her what he could and she would put it in the bank for him. But after he got back, he wouldn't marry her until he had a full-time, secure job."
Since 1941, their mother had been a teller in the State Bank of Kenmore on Delaware Avenue, and one day told the bank manager of her frustration that her sweetheart hadn't yet found a job. The manager had a contact at the telephone company, and George Harter, who had strung communication wires in the South Pacific, landed a job there. He worked there for the rest of his career.
Their financial future more secure, Fay Cameron and George Harter were married on May 3, 1947.
They enjoyed trips on the Canadiana to Crystal Beach on Kenmore Day, hiking and visits to parks, the zoo and beaches in Canada, their daughters said. They belonged to bowling leagues and were active in the Telephone Pioneers organization.
The Harters were active in the former Ellwood United Presbyterian Church in the Town of Tonawanda, where "they probably held every position but pastor," said Kathleen Radetich, and Mrs. Harter sang in the choir.
Neighborhood children flocked to the Harter house to skate on the backyard ice rink every winter, and when she was a young mother, Mrs. Harter still did headstands to amaze her daughters' friends.
She stayed home to raise her children until her older daughter, Lois, turned 14. To put aside money for the girls' college educations, she returned to work full-time at the State Bank of Kenmore, which in 1966 became the Kenmore office of the Bank of Buffalo. Long before specialized college accounts, "they were setting aside money to help us out," said Lois Slade.
In the 1970s, she was president of the Business and Professional Women's Club of Kenmore. She retired as assistant treasurer of the Bank of New York in 1982, a year after her husband "so they wouldn't retire in the same tax year," Lois Slade said.
In retirement, the Harters traveled across the country, visiting friends and family along the way. "Just the two of them — they really wanted to see America," said Kathleen Radetich.
In the late 1980s, Mr. Harter suffered a serious stroke, and they both worked to rehabilitate him as much as possible, their daughters said. With his wife's care, he lived until Nov. 23, 2001. "So that was a love story from the beginning," said Kathleen Radetich.
Mrs. Harter was an avid conservationist and dedicated supporter of national parks, the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund, her daughters said. In her final years, she enjoyed watching birds and bunnies in her backyard.
Besides her daughters, Mrs. Harter is survived by two grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in the Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Home, 3070 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.