Ron "Noodleman" Carter, 67, passed away on Wednesday,
Nov. 18, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand, the country that had
become his second home.
Noodleman, aka "Matchbox," was a colorful character in Key West for many years: a fixture in the 1980s and '90s at the Sunset Celebration, and active in local politics. He ran for city commissioner several times, wrote many letters to the editor in The Citizen, and appeared on local television news frequently. His first brush with notoriety came in the late 1960s when he was arrested and escaped from the Key West jail. According to his accounts, he swam to Christmas Tree island and hid out there undetected for a few days until safely swimming back to shore. It was then that he changed his name from his birth name of Hume Ronald Kumpf to Ron Carter, to avoid detection by the authorities. After several years traveling and eventually settling in Santa Barbara, Calif., for a time, he decided to return to Key West, the island that he loved, to clear his name. Many local citizens remember his noodle stand at the Sunset Celebration, hence his nickname "Noodleman." Even after giving up the noodle stand, the nickname stuck, and he referred to himself as "Noodleman" forever after. In his political activities, he was a champion of rights for the homeless, fought to legalize marijuana, and was staunchly opposed to what he felt was the overdevelopment of Key West and the loss of the old Conch houses and island charm. In recent years his time was divided between his old family home in New Jersey and Thailand. He never lost his great zest for travel and continued to explore and savor new places and experiences, yet finding time for a yearly return visit to his beloved Key West, the city which always held wonderful associations for him.
Carter is survived by his sister, Louise, and many, many friends from all over the world.