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Remembering Herman Carpenter, Sr.

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The life of Herman W. Carpenter, Sr., was recently celebrated at his home church, Park Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, with family and friends fondly remembering this great man. Carpenter was born in Camden, New Jersey. He was an only child, raised by his mother Lena, grandmother Irene and great-grandfather. He attended Hosanna African Methodist Episcopal Church in Camden and accepted Christ at a young age.

Carpenter excelled academically as well as in track and football. He was awarded the MVP award during his senior year in high school. He was awarded a full scholarship to Maryland State College and earned his B.A. from Chapman College. On June 2, 1954, he married Beatrice (Bea) Thornton in Glassboro, New Jersey. After the wedding, the couple moved to Riverside, where Carpenter was stationed at March AFB. In the following years, Carpenter took in seven of Bea’s eight siblings as they slowly migrated from New Jersey to California.

After serving six years in the Air Force, Carpenter was honorably discharged in 1960. That year, he joined the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, becoming the 2nd African American to be hired as a sworn Deputy Sheriff in Riverside and the 1st African American to be promoted to Investigator. He worked many assignments, including Commander of the Crime Lab. After a 20-year career with the Sheriff’s Department, Carpenter retired at the rank of Lieutenant. He then worked as a supervisor for the San Bernardino County Probation Department, Juvenile Hall, where he also served on the Spiritual Concerns Committee. After 13-years, Carpenter retired from Probation and became a licensed realtor, working for Devonne Armstrong Realty, Coldwell Banker and Prudential.

Carpenter was an active member of Park Avenue Missionary Baptist Church in Riverside, serving on the Layman Committee and establishing many lifelong friends. He was a member of the Martin Luther King Senior’s Club and the Riverside African American Historical Society. In prior years, Carpenter served as a community volunteer in various capacities including Boy Scouts Commissioner and coach for the little league and junior tackle. He was very active in sports and played semi-pro baseball. Carpenter’s greatest joy came from spending time with his family, cooking, traveling and watching sports. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Beatrice; three sons, Herman Jer., Harold and Michael; daughter Michelle; granddaughter Ashleigh Merchant; great-grandson Jaedyn; six sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-law, and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. His mother, Lena Collins preceded him in death.

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