Times West Virginian
Pillar of the community, business leader, dedicated serviceman, devoted Christian, tomato farmer, “Citizen of the Year,” tractor aficionado and Mountaineer fan, as well as beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, John Ryan (“Jack”) Carpenter passed away on Wednesday (Aug. 28, 2013) at his home in Fairmont, four days shy of his 93rd birthday.
Jack was born Sept. 1, 1920, in Hepzibah, Harrison County, to Jessie MacGregor Carpenter and Harry Bell Carpenter. His maternal grandparents were Margaret Tierney MacGregor and Thomas B. MacGregor from Glasgow, Scotland. Samantha and Thomas Carpenter from Wetzel County were his paternal grandparents. Jack had two sisters who predeceased him, Jean Carpenter Welling and Martha Carpenter Ingram.
After the outbreak of World War II, while attending college, Jack enlisted in the United States Navy and served on the USS Omaha in the north and south Atlantic. In October 1942, he married Helen (“Timer”) Nichols, daughter of Pearle and Russell Nichols of Colfax and Fairmont. They were childhood sweethearts and married for 64 years before her passing in 2007. (She was notoriously punctual, and he was notoriously not-so-punctual; now she awaits him no longer.)
Jack and Timer made their home on Earth at 1646 Fairmont Ave., which felt like home to many over the years — including extended family, friends and friends that felt like family. No one was a stranger, and everyone was welcome to come and sit, and enjoy some good conversation and a “cool” fire in the fireplace year-round.
In 1947, Jack earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture at West Virginia University. He formed a partnership with Sam E. Smith in 1958 to form Smith-Carpenter Insurance Agency. In 1964, he was presented the West Virginia “Citizen of the Year” award in Charleston. At that time, he had just completed a year of intensive work as chairman of the Marion County Centennial Committee in cooperation with the state of West Virginia. During the year of the Centennial in Marion County, such projects as the One Room School Museum on Fairmont State College campus and Pricketts Fort State Park were permanently founded. A photograph of the Centennial Parade of Flags performing for President Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden hung proudly in his office for many years.
Jack was a director of City National Bank in Fairmont and Osborn Machinery in Clarksburg. He was a chairman of the board and a trustee of the Central Christian Church, Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the West Virginia State Board of Insurance. He was a member of the Midland Mutual Insurance Co. “Hall of Fame” and the Century Club. He served on the Eastern Regional Advisory Council for Atlantic Companies and also the National Advisory Council for Atlantic Companies. He served as president of both Smith-Carpenter Insurance and Interstate Fabricators and Constructors.
Jack was a man of strong faith and served his church family at Central Christian Church in a variety of ways, including serving as chairman of the board multiple times, as well as serving as a deacon and a trustee. He oversaw the fundraising and construction of a large multi-purpose addition to the church building. He loved to sing in the choir and did so for many years. Sometimes, he even hosted choir practice on his pontoon boat in the Tygart River.
Despite his vast professional and personal accomplishments, Jack will be best remembered by those who loved him for his generosity of spirit. His sharp mind. His friends, far and wide. His uncanny ability to nap just about anywhere. His sense of humor, a few steps ahead of the room at any given moment. His warm smile. And his love of family, which was everything to him.
Jack and Timer’s children include, Jill Carpenter Zundell of Fairmont, Jon Ryan “Jack” Carpenter and daughter-in-law Pam Klempa Carpenter of St. Clairsville, Ohio, Jeffrey Brian Carpenter and daughter-in-law Amy Bruce Carpenter of Fairmont, and Jan Carpenter Parker and son-in-law Paul Edward “Eddie” Parker III of Fairmont.
When little, Jack’s grandchildren could often be found napping with him on his lap or on the couch. And as they grew up, they often enjoyed rides with him on the golf cart and the tractor. His grandchildren are George Ryan Zundell and wife Renea of Marietta, Ohio, Trenton MacGregor Zundell and wife Rachael of Morgantown, Adam Nichols Zundell and wife Kelly of Morgantown, Megan Margaret Carpenter and Daniel Gloyd of Fort Worth, Texas, Brooks Edward Parker of Franklin, Tenn., Brett Russell Parker and his fiancée Aubree Phillips of Franklin, Tenn., Jay Brian Carpenter of Bellfast, Ireland, Jenny Elizabeth Carpenter of Alliance, Ohio, and Kerry Jacobs Carpenter of Fairmont.
There are also seven great-grandchildren who have been blessed to know and love Jack, Jackson Tygart Carpenter-Gloyd and Harlan Monteith Gloyd of Fort Worth, Texas, Owen Mark Zundell of Marietta, Ohio, Drew Jacob Zundell, Tyler Nicholas Zundell and Cara Helene Zundell, all of Morgantown, and Ethan Mitchell Zundell, of Morgantown.
Whenever he was asked how he was doing, despite any particular adversity, Jack always responded, “Never better.” Such a life — a life lived long and well, a family that adored him, and now reunited with his sweetheart of seven decades. Perhaps that rings true now more than ever. Never better.
Jack has chosen direct cremation. Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, at Central Christian Church, 1640 Big Tree Drive, Fairmont, with the Rev. Johnna Mansuetto officiating. Private interment of the cremains will take place at a later date at Mt. Zion Cemetery and Mausoleum. Carpenter and Ford Funeral Home, 209 Merchant Street, Fairmont, WV is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Central Christian Church, 1640 Big Tree Drive, Fairmont, WV 26554.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.carpenterandford.com.