BETHEL — Those who knew David Carter, even some who only had met him once, say the same thing.

“He was trying to convince everyone in the world that cross-country skiing was the greatest thing in the world to do. He was the Pied Piper, that’s for sure,” said Jack Lufkin, an Olympian and one of several who started the Jackson Ski Touring Center in Jackson, New Hampshire, with Carter.

David Carter died of cancer on March 2 at the age of 65, a month after being inducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. But two weeks before he died, surrounded by his family in Bethel in a bright room that looked out to Maine’s western mountains, Carter skied.

Even the day before he said goodbye to his family for the last time, David asked his wife, Anne, if he could have one last go at it. “He was hardly able to walk. I was afraid he would fall and break a bone,” she said, a soft smile escaping at the memory.

That ferocious, exuberant love Carter had for Nordic skiing defined him and the ski touring centers he and Anne built in Oxford and Bethel. Now, the first winter without David, Anne Carter said she and her family intend to keep his dream alive, focusing an all-out effort on getting more people playing in the snow.

“His enthusiasm was contagious,” Anne said last week, as she ran the Bethel X-C Ski Center alone. “We’ve got to keep it going, in his honor and his name. I’ve been doing it 40 years. I don’t want to stop.”

The Carter’s Oxford retail store opened for the Oxford Ski Club in 1982. A ski center at that site opened two years later with 20 kilometers of trails. In 1991, David and Anne opened Carter’s X-C Ski Center in Bethel at the Carter family homestead, which dates back to the 1780s. They created the ultimate classroom for novice Nordic skiers, with 60 kilometers of rolling trails.

“As someone involved with cross-country skiing way back to the ’70s, I think Dave has been the best role model for developing community-based cross-country skiing in Maine,” said Avery Caldwell of Bangor, who ran the Jackson Ski Touring Center in the 1970s.

“He was a quiet worker behind the scenes. Bethel is a ski town. Honestly I think he struggled in the shadow of Sunday River, where there is little interest in cross-country skiing. But that’s not his greatest achievement. His greatest achievement is getting out in the community and getting kids on skis.”

Jesse Hill, the Carters’ son-in-law and manager of the Oxford store, said many of the tasks David Carter did for the business went unnoticed – his method of taking inventory, the work he did fixing the groomers, assessing trails that needed repair.

He would get up early, groom the Bethel trails, ski them all, then show customers coming to the farm the best trails suited for them.

“He was the happiest when people were working on his dream with him. He lived it. He really did. You would see it every day,” said Matt Delamater, another son-in-law.

“He had his own brand of social media. Every person he came in contact with he would talk to about skiing. I don’t think he ever had less than 50 brochures in his jacket pocket.”

Last Monday, while Anne was helping a new customer from New Jersey learn to ski for the first time, showing the woman how to use her poles and move her skis, David Carter’s memory lived on.

“Don’t use your poles to pull. Relax your shoulders,” Anne suggested gently.

She said this winter has been one of optimism, not sadness.

Christmas vacation makes up the bulk of the winter business at many ski areas across the state, and it was a busy time at the Carter’s X-C Ski Center. Last week was a good week with plenty of natural snow in the mountains.

On top of that, the snow that fell in November allowed them to open before Thanksgiving, and they started selling equipment early at their Oxford store.

“I feel he’s helping us, looking down on us, giving us his blessing,” Anne Carter said. “Things have worked pretty smoothly. It’s as if he’s still here. I feel his presence.”