Cyrus Carter: A Giant and a Gentleman


Mr. Carter meant a lot to each of us as a friend, colleague, mentor, and teacher, but it was his colorful and significant tie choices that delighted Robert College daily. A select few of us were dedicated with cabalistic fervor in deciphering the code: one day, a Leonardo Da Vinci Vitruvian Man tie might be worn for an ASL class, or a currency print tie for a Business Society club session, Bugs Bunny for Children’s Day, Turkish flags to commemorate a national holiday, or the Arc of Triumph to celebrate a historical milestone. Life for Cyrus held a deep sense of meaning, and he celebrated that sartorially, intellectually, and personally.

Many great personalities and intellects have passed through the halls of Robert College, and each has contributed to the genetic make-up of our beloved school. A giant to be added to that roster, is Cyrus Norwood Carter. Joining us in 2006, Cyrus had already established himself as a visionary leader of education in Türkiye. He taught English starting in 1990 at Üsküdar American Academy eventually serving as Administrative Dean and Middle School leader. In 1997, he co-created and chaired the still running Autumn Teachers’ Conference.  He was the foundational principal of the then new MEF International School in 1999. Koç School would be his next posting in 2001with varied roles ranging from coordinator, English Department Chair, and Provost. We were fortunate to be chosen as his final school where his legacy and impact could be best remembered and honored.

Cyrus Carter passed away on December 4, 2023. The outpouring of sorrow and condolences have come from graduates spanning the years. Cyrus’s impact was immeasurable, as captured poetically by RC 13 graduate Kutay Onayli:

“All beautiful things of the English language, which I was so ready to love and to live in but didn't know how, and don't think I could if not for you: I remember that first year, how it was your generosity in teaching and mentoring and the eager confidence you instilled in little lost 14-year old Kutay that allowed me access to the language and to the school and through those, to the world..”

A blue-eyed, consummate gentleman whose handsomeness made Tom Hanks look average, Cyrus Norwood Carter loved teaching, traveling, and learning. He loved his wife, his family and friends, his garden, his cats, his dog, Pamuk, reading, deep conversations anywhere even on the service bus, bad Dad jokes, tricky NY Times Crosswords, Bodrum summers, and anything that sparked learning. We, as an RC family are in mourning, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Dilek Yakar, and his sister, Nicola Carter and their family in Canada.

Contributed by Dean of Faculty Maura Kelly

Poem contributed by Zeynep Eda Demircioğlu L10:

It’s so lonely,

Mourning the loss of a friend.

In the midst of the constant hassle of life

Everyone keeps moving forwards.

When you try to keep your sorrow bottled up inside,

Searching for solace in your own words.

It’s so lonely,

Mourning the loss of a friend.

You feel cold in sudden knowledge,

Your eyes burning up on the news

And the bottle cracks in straps

Till it burst in a sudden blast

And all you want to do is to refuse

What you know to be true.

It’s so lonely,

Mourning the loss of a friend.

In hindsight you see marks of scattered paint

In every color that has been discovered,

As you stand in the midst of black and white

Where memories haunt you as they hover

In every direction in your sight

Are moments of time that feel out of reach forever.

It is. It is so lonely. Mourning.

Mourning the loss of a friend.

But it’s the aftermath that matter the most,

So here, I raise a toast, for the legacy of Cyrus Carter.

For each mark he left etched on people's mind,

For his unique humor, that was one of a kind.

For teaching, a blend of wisdom and fun,

For library chats, where conversations spun.

For Canadian tales, of Atwood that leaves one stunned,

For stories that linger, the way every moment has done.

But foremost, for love in its deepest chart,

For the respect and affection, he left in every heart.

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