Amon G. Carter, newspaperman and entrepreneur, was born Giles Amon Carter on December 11, 1879, in Crafton, Texas, the son of William Henry and Josephine (Ream) Carter. He changed his name as an adult; he named his son Amon Gary Carter, Jr., and was widely known as Amon Carter, Sr. He quit school to help his family when he was eleven years old, did odd jobs in Bowie, and later worked in Oklahoma and California. He moved to Fort Worth in 1905 and became advertising manager of the Fort Worth Star the next year. Three years later, with the backing of Col. Paul Waples, he bought the newspaper and merged it with the Fort Worth Telegram. He named it the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Louis J. Wortham was editor. In 1923 Carter succeeded Wortham as publisher and president, and in 1925 he bought the rival paper, the Record, which was published by William Randolph Hearst.
In 1922 Carter established WBAP, Fort Worth's first radio station; it became the first television station in the South and the Southwest in 1948. In 1923 Carter became chairman of the first board of directors of Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), where he served until 1927. He was the youngest president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. When oil was discovered in North Texas in the 1920s he helped persuade oilmen to move to Fort Worth and encouraged construction of such skyscrapers as the Sinclair, W. T. Waggoner, and Life of America buildings; he later served as director of the American Petroleum Institute.
One of Carter's special interests was transportation. In 1911 he headed a committee that brought the first airplane to the Fort Worth area; by 1928 he was a director and part owner of American Airways, which six years later reorganized as American Airlines, Incorporated (see AMR CORPORATION). Before World War II he helped bring to Fort Worth a huge Convair complex, later to become General Dynamics. In 1952 he persuaded Bell Aircraft Corporation to locate a helicopter plant in nearby Hurst. Amon G. Carter Field, named for him in 1950, was involved in the Fort Worth-Dallas airport controversy (see DALLAS-FORT WORTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT).
Carter was noted for his large-scale philanthropy, which was fueled by wealth from the oil business. His first successful well was drilled in New Mexico in 1935, and in 1945 the Amon G. Carter Foundation was established for cultural and educational purposes. Because of his outstanding service to Fort Worth and to Texas, Carter received numerous honors. He was named Range Boss of West Texas in 1939 and Ambassador of Good Will in 1941 by the Texas legislature. He received the Exceptional Service Medal from the United States Air Force and the Frank M. Hawks Memorial Award from American Legion Post 501 of New York City. He was an organizer and director of the Southwest Exposition and Fat Stock Show, president of the Fort Worth Club for thirty-five years, and a contributor to Fort Worth hospitals and civic centers. Many important visitors from business, theater, and public life visited his farm, Shady Oak.
Carter was married to Zetta Thomas, and they had a daughter. He subsequently married Nenetta Burton, and they had a son and a daughter; they were divorced in 1941. Carter subsequently married Minnie Meacham Smith. He died on June 23, 1955, in Fort Worth. Under the terms of his will, the Amon Carter Museum was established in Fort Worth from his collection of Remingtons and Russells. See also TEXAS FRONTIER CENTENNIAL.