Courter on a roll with Fred and Ethel Noyes book

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Judy Courter signs books at Smithville Inn. Judy Courter signs books at Smithville Inn.

GALLOWAY – The book launch party for “Fred & Ethel Noyes of Smithville, New Jersey – The Artist and the Entrepreneur” was a huge success, according to author Judy Courter.

“It was an awesome celebration of the legacy of Fred and Ethel Noyes,” Courter said Tuesday, July 2. “Ethel and Fred would have been proud.”

The event at Smithville Inn Wednesday, June 26 brought together current owners of Historic Smithville and a host of characters who knew, worked for and were friends of the Noyes who developed the town and its landmark restaurant.

Behind the receptionist desk at the inn is a picture of the Noyes and a copy of the song “Old Historic Smithville Inn” by Bill Hoch of Absecon.

“Bill Hoch sang ‘Old Historic Smithville Inn’ at our party,” Courter said. “I read a letter from Gov. Brendan Byrne. It was a complete recognition of the Noyes.”

Since the book’s publication early this year, Courter has been on a whirlwind tour of appearances, speeches and book signings.

“I was a history major in college,” Courter told The Current. “But I never thought I’d write a book.”

She said she was always a numbers person.

“I was very comfortable balancing my checkbook,” Courter said. “I did consumer credit counseling at Family Service. I got people out of credit card debt. I really loved it.”

When she was planning to leave Family Service, she met her husband Joe for dinner at Fred & Ethel’s Lantern Light Tavern, where she became fixated by a picture of Ethel Noyes.

“She was an amazing woman,” Courter said. “I asked, ‘Has anybody written about her?’ No. Somebody must. You must.”

She said researching and writing about the Noyes was a very different enterprise for her.

“It was a volunteer project,” Courter said. “There was no deadline. No paycheck.”

Shortly after publication, she appeared at the Atlantic County Historical Society. There was a book signing at a Smithville Inn Sunday brunch.

“I sold the books out of my car,” Courter said. “I sold them at the Wawa where I’d bump into people. People love Fred and Ethel. Many don’t associate that they founded Smithville, Ram’s Head Inn and the Noyes Museum of Art.”

Courter was born and raised in upstate New York, near Saratoga Springs.

“I moved here in 1972 with my husband’s business,” Courter said. “I didn’t personally meet the Noyes. We lived on Main Street in Port Republic. We bought the house that was Ethel’s sister’s. Lois Lingelbach Muller and her family had lived there.”

Joe Courter is an architect in Tuckerton.

He moved his family to Port Republic around 1990 – moving from New York City for his new job.

“It took some getting used to,” Courter said. “There were more people in our apartment building in New York than there were in Port Republic. We were very pleased with Port Republic. Living on Main Street, we’d walk to the beach; and we raised our children.”

During their years in Port Republic he was mayor for a decade. There they raised Justin, now 44; Amanda, 43; and Catherine, 39.

The Courter family frequently visited Historic Smithville.

“We went often; we took the kids,” Courter said. “Quail Hill was a museum to us. We entered the Christmas wreath contest with the Port historical society.”

She said her husband met the Noyes in his capacity as mayor.

“I saw the Noyes around,” Courter said. “But I could not say I knew them.”

She said she interviewed about 80 people for her book.

“I was calling complete strangers,” Courter said. “I never wrote before. Yet almost everybody said, ‘Yes.’ It was a wonderful experience.”

The Noyes were a distinctive couple, she said.

“Ethel: it was her vision that created Smithville and Ram’s Head,” Courter said. “Fred: It was his willingness to let Ethel take the lead and support her all the way. He admired her.”

She would get his OK on important decisions, Courter said.

“They really, really were a team,” Courter said. “His art – he was constantly drawing; my husband collects Fred’s art. We have a lot of his pieces. Fred would paint and draw at home at work at Smithville.”

They did a lot for others, Courter said.

“Ethel recognized talent and people thrived,” Courter said. “One of the first people was Catherine White. In 1956 her husband died and she didn’t know what to do. The doctor said to get out. She met Ethel. Ethel took her to the general store and said, ‘This is yours.’ She learned purchasing, etc. – she did things she didn’t know she could do.”

Ethel constantly worked, Courter said. She did anything that needed to be done.

“I feel I know them very well,” Courter said. “I was drawn to them for some reason, and I still am.”

She said it might be better that she did not know them personally.

“It would have affected my objectivity,” Courter said. “My objectivity is enhanced by learning from other people and newspaper articles.”

She said she learned a lot from writing the book.

“I learned about decoys and carvers,” Courter said. “It was a great opportunity.”

In the fall, Courter is lined up to appear Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Authors in the Greene event in Village Greene, Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Noyes Museum Gala, and Monday Oct. 7 at the Absecon Historical Society meeting at Gourmet Italian Cuisine in Galloway.

“Fred & Ethel Noyes of Smithville, New Jersey – The Artist and the Entrepreneur” is available at Smithville Inn and the Colonial Inn at Historic Smithville and the Village Greene, Ram’s Head Inn on Route 30, the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College on Lily Lake Road and Days of Old Antiques and Collectibles on Route 9.

It can also be ordered from Courter’s website, www.noyesofsmithvillenj.com.

Call Courter at (609) 484-1724.

From left are Laura Bushar, co-owner of Historic Smithville; author Judy Courter and her husband Joe Courter; and John Mahoney, wine educator. From left are Laura Bushar, co-owner of Historic Smithville; author Judy Courter and her husband Joe Courter; and John Mahoney, wine educator.

From left are Smithville partners Laura Bushar, Fran Coppola and Charles Bushar, and Port Republic Mayor Gary Giberson and his wife, Nikki, with author Judy Courter and Tony Coppola. From left are Smithville partners Laura Bushar, Fran Coppola and Charles Bushar, and Port Republic Mayor Gary Giberson and his wife, Nikki, with author Judy Courter and Tony Coppola.

From left are Dot and Herman Saatkamp and Judy and Joe Courter. Dot Saatkamp is on the Noyes Museum board. Her husband is president of Richard Stockton College. From left are Dot and Herman Saatkamp and Judy and Joe Courter. Dot Saatkamp is on the Noyes Museum board. Her husband is president of Richard Stockton College.

Judy Courter with Tony Coppola. Judy Courter with Tony Coppola.

Judy starts her presentation honoring Fred and Ethel Noyes by reading a letter of commendation from former Gov. Brendan Byrne. Judy starts her presentation honoring Fred and Ethel Noyes by reading a letter of commendation from former Gov. Brendan Byrne.

Author Judy Courter with Herman Saatkamp, Tony Coppola and Mike Cagno, director of the Noyes Museum. Author Judy Courter with Herman Saatkamp, Tony Coppola and Mike Cagno, director of the Noyes Museum.

Judy Courter holds a copy of her book in the Baremore Tavern in Smithville Inn. (Steve Prisament) Judy Courter holds a copy of her book in the Baremore Tavern in Smithville Inn. (Steve Prisament)

Author Judy Courter’s home features a number of paintings by Fred Noyes. (Steve Prisament) Author Judy Courter’s home features a number of paintings by Fred Noyes. (Steve Prisament)


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