Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Janet Carpenter Lead So Many to the Wonderful World of Reading Books

My deepest thanks to Heather Brown for the following article which ran March 9 in the Labette Avenue. This is one of the most touching tributes I've read. Thank you, Heather!

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The reason I am able to write a book review each week has a lot to do with the people that showed the love of reading in my childhood. Janet Carpenter certainly had a great deal to do with that.

She passed away on Wednesday, March 2, so instead of a book review this week, I wanted to tell you a little about the woman who saw a reader in me when I was small and never let me forget how a book can change your life.

When I was small Mrs. Carpenter would walk by our house on her way to the library, if the weather was nice enough. I would wait patiently on the steps of my house with my books and join her for the remaining block to the library.

We chatted about family, what books I was reading and often about things that made me angry. I was very young but she was a great listener and for that entire block I had this amazing lady all to myself. She would laugh at my silly jokes and gave me sage advice many times on issues in my young life.

I loved an afternoon at the library. I would pour through books and once in a while Mrs. Carpenter would give me on an important job to do--at least she made me feel like they were important. I emptied the book drop, put up magazines, went to the post office and she even allowed me to sit behind the desk several times while she ran an errand. That was a little bit of paradise for this wanna-be librarian.

When I was very small my mom and dad took me to the library and I would find a special book and sit down at that big, round table in the kids' section and start my adventure.

I was known to "read" out loud and although my mom often tried to quiet me, concerned about my fellow library patrons, Mrs. Carpenter loved my story times and assured my mom that it was okay for me to be a little loud.

As I grew up I maintained a true love for the library and the librarian that had cultivated my love of reading all those years. She was never too busy to help me find a book for a report I was writing or to suggest a new book that was right up my alley.

Mrs. Carpenter loved books and the people that read them. Her heart and passion for books was clearly manifested in the careful care and patience she bestowed on all who entered the doors of the library.

She was so well read that she could suggest a book for anyone on the spot. If you wanted a book on reptiles, she could walk right to it. Were you looking for a fluffy romance to read on a rainy day in your cozy living room? She knew the perfect one. She knew what Chilton manual you would need if you were working on a 1980 Chevy truck and would even retrieve it for you. She would have you back on your way to the garage in no time. If you were new to the world of quilting she knew the best book for a beginner and would wish you the best of luck on your project.

To this day I love to go to the library. My favorite time to go is on Tuesday. The library is open late and the beautiful building shines like a beacon in the dark. It's warm and cozy and friendly.

Mrs. Carpenter hasn't been the librarian for many years but her kindness and love for her community lives on in the walls of the Oswego Public Library. Liz and Heather carry on the tradition of warm, helpful staff and love for books. They often have special suggestions for a new book that I might enjoy. I still love my librarians but Mrs. Carpenter will always hold a special place in my heart.

Thank you Mrs. Carpenter for letting me be your shadow even on days when it would have been easier to move alone. Thank you for showing me that books of all genres can be loved and enjoyed and thank you most of all for being a friend.

I'll end with a quote I think Mrs. Carpenter would whole heartedly agree with. "Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest. "
- Lady Bird Johnson

Janet Was Special

This sweet tribute by newspaper editor and friend, Rena Russell, ran the week after Mom's passing in the Labette Avenue. The day the paper hit the streets was "Pie Day" and I attended in Mom's honor. As soon as I opened the door to the pastry shop, the owner and her assistants rushed over "If we'd known Janet didn't like plastic, we'd have given her a REAL fork" they exclaimed!
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Oswego lost a pillar of the community last week in the passing of Janet Carpenter. This amazing woman always had a smile and was a regular member of the Thursday pie club. Janet preferred to eat her pie with a "real" fork - not plastic. Well Peggy Strickland would open her purse, pull out a sack and hand Janet her "real" fork. We all teased her about being so "special." And yet she was. She loved to watch the KU basketball games and often commented on the latest movement in Topeka that would attempt to save their money problems. An avid reader, former librarian and member of the book club, Janet was very knowledgeable and gave her comments. In a comment her daughter Karyn stated is so fitting in closing…"she died the way she lived - with a grace and humor." What a legacy. - - Rena Russell

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I've heard directly from two people that they were unable to post a comment to this blog. If that happens to you, please copy it and send it directly to me and I'll post for you. Let me know if I can sign your name or you want it to be anonymous. You can send to newfhugger_wander@mac.com

Sorry for the inconvenience.

- Karyn

Friday, March 4, 2011

Janet Will Be Missed

I've been privileged to be at my mother's side this past week as streams of family and friends have called to pay their respects, to tell this amazing woman what she has meant to them.

Mom didn't want to be sick. She wanted to live life to the fullest, then just die. She was a no-nonsense woman, and that was the most practical way to approach the end of a productive life. While she didn't die as quickly as she would have liked, she also did not linger, and she was never in pain. Her final days were spent listening to people tell her how great she was (she noted that she was starting to get cocky from all the wonderful comments), then she quickly moved on.

She died the way she lived - with a grace and humor.

To those who called, wrote and dropped by, we thank you for making her final days very meaningful. We deeply apologize to those who wished to visit at the end when she had lost strength and were unable to do so. We want you to know we shared with her that you called and your wish to visit meant a great deal to her.

To everyone who has and will be leaving a comment on this blog, we thank you. Mom was a unique and special woman and your stories and tributes are greatly appreciated.

Again, we will remind everyone of the celebration of life which we will hold this summer at the park in Oswego. We hope you will attend.

Karyn Carpenter

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Janet in Photos

Janet was a photographer in her younger years - and a darned good one. May families have treasured images documented by her with her trusty 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 Speedgraphic. However, most of her life, she shunned the camera. Though a beautiful woman at all ages, she did not like being the focus of attention.

Regardless, these are a few images we found of Janet through the years.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Janet Hughes Carpenter, Age 86

"I realized early on that I wasn't brilliant or talented. My strength was to just be nice to people." Janet Carpenter's simple but powerful ethic was the foundation for a life filled with friends and happiness; a successful life by most anyone's standards.

A constant volunteer and supporter of her community of Oswego, KS, Janet focused her energies on projects and causes that would make a positive impact on her town and the people in it. As librarian for 30 years, she was instrumental in the library expansion project which nearly doubled the size of the existing facility. Perhaps of most importance to her, though, in that position she was able to keep up with the citizens of the community. With a listening ear to young and old, she encouraged reading, education, and having a positive outlook.

In more recent years, she served on the Oswego Parks and Community Foundation and the Parsons Area Community Concert Association Board. She was an active member of the Oswego Presbyterian Church and The Oswego Arts Society.

Janet enjoyed reading, making stained glass, bridge, long walks, dancing, discussing politics and watching sports - particularly KU Basketball. With her husband and family, she spent many months traveling the US in an RV, and exploring Kenya, Australia, and Europe.

The youngest of three children, Janet was born to Rees and Isabel Hughes in Parsons Kansas on July 27, 1924. Following graduation from Kansas State Teachers College (now Pittsburg State University) in Pittsburg with a degree in psychology and teaching, she worked as a photographer for Bill Miller in Pittsburg. She married Robert Carpenter in 1948 and lived the remainder of her life in Oswego.

Janet Carpenter, 86, passed away March 2nd in her home following a valiant fight with cancer. She will be missed by her daughter, Karyn Carpenter of Bainbridge Island, WA, son David Carpenter of Auburn, WA., brother Pete Hughes of Parsons and sister Marian Shuff of Hot Springs, AR, many extended family members and friends.

Janet requested that donations be given to the Oswego Parks and Community Foundation, Box 210, Oswego, KS 67356.

A celebration of Janet's life will be held in the spring or early summer in her favorite place, The Oswego Riverside Park. The public will be invited and notified in the newspaper and on this blog.

Her friends and family are invited to share their thoughts and comments on this blog