The Rev. Carl Eugene “Gene” Cariker Sr., 93, died April 26, 2020, at his home on St. Simons Island, Ga.
He was born in Clayton, Texas, and grew up on a small farm in Gary, Texas. At age 16, he worked in the shipyard in Orange, Texas, before serving in the United States Army as a tank commander. While stationed at Fort Benning, he met Jane Wall of Columbus, Ga., at a USO dance. They were married in 1946, and had a wonderful marriage and partnership in ministry for their 60 years together.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in American History at Stephen F. Austin College in Nacogdoches, Texas in 1949 and his Master of Divinity at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta in 1952.
The Rev. Cariker served 42 years as a United Methodist pastor in the South Georgia Conference with many appointments in the Savannah area, including Bloomingdale, Whitfield, Epworth and White Bluff. He also served churches in the Talbot Circuit, Statesboro, Quitman, Americus, Sylvester, St. Simons Island and Dublin, and served as District Superintendent of the Thomasville District. Under his leadership, the District met 100 percent of its annual apportionments. He also led the building campaign to build Alpha United Methodist, in Bloomingdale, as well as the major expansion of St. Simons United Methodist Church. He was a delegate to two UMC General Conferences. He was featured on radio and television programs in Savannah, and was involved in social justice and early ecumenical efforts. Throughout his ministry and into retirement, he was often invited to preach revivals and teach Bible courses.
He was devoted to God and his family. He attended St. Simons United Methodist Church and taught the Fellowship Sunday School class for many years. He loved to read and study theology. He was the family historian, and maintained connections with friends and family in many places. The Rev. Cariker also loved the frequent family music sing-a-longs. He was a great storyteller with a wry sense of humor. He was an avid fisherman and gardener who always had a yard full of flowers. He loved watching sports, especially the Atlanta Braves and Duke basketball. He also followed politics and kept up with all the current news.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jane Wall Cariker; a son, Carl Eugene Cariker Jr.; his parents, George and Carlie Cariker; three of his brothers, Earl, Ken and Mac Cariker; and a twin sister, Corrine Cariker Serwich.
The Rev. Cariker is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth Guenther (Curtis) of Hoover, Ala., and Mary Jane Nunley (Randy) of Orlando, Fla.; grandchildren, John Thomas Newsome, Sarah Jane Hutchinson and Matthew and Daniel Nunley; great-grandchildren, Madison and Makenzie Newsome and Phillip and Davina Hutchinson; a brother, Oran Cariker of Lake Charles, La.; as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and step-grandchildren.
A private graveside service was held Friday, May 1, 2020, in Columbus, Ga. A memorial celebration will be held at a later date at St. Simons United Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Simons United Methodist Church, Epworth By The Sea, or the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra.
Edo Miller and Sons is in charge of the arrangements. You may sign the register book and leave condolences for the Cariker family at www.edomillerandsons.com