Russell County school board member passes

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Jerry Wayne Carpenter left impact of respect, dignity in local community

By Blenda Copeland

At 77 years old, a Russell County Board of Education member and Vietnam veteran has passed.

Jerry Wayne Carpenter, of Pittsview, died Aug. 6 at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Ga., surrounded by his loving family.

Present at the last school board meeting in July, he was an active member of the Russell County school board.

“I really met Mr. Carpenter when he came on the board, and in that amount of time, I found him to be honest, forthcoming, and wanting to help the system and to do good for the kids,” said Board President Keith Mitchell.



“He was on time – everything that you would expect out of a board member. Never selfish in any way, willing to compromise. He’s been a pleasure to serve with. This is definitely untimely, and our feelings go out to the family in having to deal with this at an unexpected time.”

Two friends posted caring words Aug. 8 on Carpenter’s online tribute wall through Vance Memorial Chapel (Vance Brooks Funeral Home).

“Mr. Carpenter, You will be missed,” wrote long-time Russell County School district secretary Alice Daniel. “I admired you because you were a man of God with much integrity. You genuinely cared for the students of Russell County Schools and you showed it through deeds. You had a love for people.

“As a Board member, you supported administration. You were always on time. You were an example of Proverbs 21:3 (to do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice). I will miss your kind words and your jokes. I am (sorry) we didn’t get to go fishing. Rest In Peace, soldier.”




Gene Christian posted: “I am honored to say that Jerry was my friend and neighbor and a valued member of this beach community. I had the pleasure to serve with Jerry as a fellow member of the Board of Directors of Aquavista Condominiums in Panama City Beach (Fla.) […]. Jerry is who I would call when I had a question about the administration of the property and I needed a steady hand and cool head to consider options.  His council, his wit and his friendship will be missed by us all.”

According to Carpenter’s online school board biography, he was a resident of the county for more than 50 years and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Business Administration from Troy University. He was a deacon at Seale Baptist Church in Seale, and his wife is a retired school teacher who worked many years in Russell County. Their daughter, also a teacher, also had previous experience in the Russell County School District.



According to Carpenter’s obituary, “He was a cattle farmer and the owner and operator of Villula Plantation.  He also was retired from Fieldcrest Mills with 46 years of dedicated service.  For many years he was owner of J&J Services, a landscaping company in Phenix City. He was a member of the Russell County School Board, served as one of the Directors for the Russell County Cattlemen’s Association, served as Vice-President of Aqua-Vista Condominium Association, was an associate member of the Russell County Retired Educators Association, and a member of the Russell County Chapter of Gideon’s International.

“He was a member of the National Rifleman’s Association and the Russell County Republicans Club. He enjoyed farming, the outdoors, hunting, and fishing and was passionate about helping others.

“He was a Vietnam Veteran and proudly served our country in the United States Army.  He was a Pentecostal by faith, attended Silver Run Baptist Church, and was a member of Seale Baptist Church.”



Also according to his obituary, “He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 28 years, Ruthie Hardy Carpenter of Pittsview, AL, one daughter, Michelle Carpenter Obert and husband Randy of Phenix City, AL, one brother, Jack Carpenter of Phenix City, AL, and three precious grandchildren, Cara Obert, Carli Obert, and Cailin Obert, a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and many caring friends.”

A celebration of life funeral service was held Aug. 10, 2018 at Vance Memorial Chapel (Vance Brooks Funeral Home) in Phenix City with Pastor Richie Ashburn and Rev. Norman Garrison officiating. Interment with military honors followed at Lakeview Memory Gardens.

Carpenter became a county school board member in November of 2014. He was a few months shy of having served four years of his six-year school board term. Per policy, the school board can act within the next 30 days to appoint someone to fill the remainder of his term. If the board can’t agree on a replacement, then the governor has the power to make the appointment. After the remainder of the term is completed, whoever would wish to fill this position would have to run for election to the seat. The last time a county school board member died was in the 1990s as far as board member Keith Mitchell could recall.