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


  1. Cheri Blackledge PeineMarch 3, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Janet was one of the most special women I've ever known. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her on the Parks Foundation. She is hard working, never complains, always has a wonderful smile and some funny comment to make the rest of us smile too. I just love her dearly. She was so precious to me. What a difference she's made in my life!

  2. Penny Johnston RousseauMarch 3, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    Janet was amazing and a role model for us that grew up in Oswego. I'll never forget her wonderful smile.

  3. I remember her visits here on Bainbridge Island. Not to look good, or to hang out at Rotary, but to help you with painting your place. And she was already in her eighties! While I am not sure how much paint work truly got done, just the idea of having your mom help with that chore was quite outrageous!

  4. Oswego has lost a pillar of the community.

    More of the proverbial 'torch' is past and those shoes will be difficult to fill.

    The collective community memories of the Janet and the family will be many. But perhaps the lasting legacy, at least for me, is that of the lives touched as Oswego Librarian.
    At least 3 generations, two of mine, learned various and sundry bits of information, history, stories, proper research methods, cataloging and on an on. And Hey, that's from someone who didn't really pay all of that much attention. All of my kids used the Library and picked up on Janet's helpfulness, knowledge and wisdom. What a great legacy.

  5. Janet Carpenter was a woman who cared about the patrons of her library and the members of her community.

    She had a big influence of my life at a very young age. Her love for books and politics was obvious to everyone and she was a joy to discuss both with.

    Mrs. Carpenter was the epitome of class. Thanks to her many hours of volunteer work this community is a better place. She will be missed by many.

  6. I didn't know Janet, but the picture on the blog shows shows the face of a lovely, bright woman, sturdily self-possessed and instantly likeable. Judging from what you have said about her, she managed to lead a pretty good life and to orchestrate a pretty good death. We can all hope to have the same said about us.

    With heartfelt sympathy,


  7. Thinking of Janet brings millions of thoughts to mind and I just would know where to begin. This is part of what was posted on the Kansas Librarians Listserv. Not enough room for more.
    In reading all the things about Libraries and digital books, etc. I think of Janet and how she brought our library into the future. She worked to automate OPL in 1991-1992 and brought those non-books items, VHS movies, (gasp!!!) into the Library to get those non-readers through our doors. Our community has lost a great soul and volunteer and for myself a mentor.

  8. While exploring Kenya, Janet and Bob and their friends visited my Peace Corps site at the school where I taught. It was so nice to see people from home even though I was meeting them for the first time. Later, when I returned home and stayed in Oswego for a while, Janet invited me to speak at the arts club and made me feel so welcome.

    Last July, my daughters (Chloe, 15, and Talia, 12) and I went with my mom (Corinne) to "Pie Day." I was so happy to see Janet there. She was very easy to talk to, and I am glad that my daughters met her. She was a good friend to my mother, and she will be missed.

    Anne Graue

  9. Of those who were instumental in making our childrens lives better by their kindness and knowledge Janet stands out among them. My children, my grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews were priviledged with the benefit of having passed through the library with her. I never lacked for conversation topics with Janet. She was interested in the evolution of where technology going but concerned about it at the same time. The last time I talked to her she was excited about my sister's story and was encouraging me to write more.

    One evening long before Bob's passing we met each other in the park as we were walking discussing what our dreams for the park would be. Janet's dreams all came true for she wanted to see more beatification, new lights suitible for the park,and a new lookout deck (now you know how long ago that may have been)!

    Janet was an Honorary member of the Oswego Rotary club because she was so proud of what it did for the youth in our community. I loved you Janet and I will miss you.

    Linda Schreppel

  10. It was a pleasure to meet Janet when she came to visit on Bainbridge Island. She was a very interesting person, and had lots of stories about her travels and her life in Kansas. I believe she had a very full and interesting life. I was somewhat surprised to hear she was housepainting in her eighties, but that just demonstrated her wonderful spirit.

    Ann Woodburn
    March 6th, 2.15 am

  11. I found myself thinking of words and phrases that I would use to describe my Aunt Janet: optimistic and always positive, humble and modest, frugal about her own needs but generous to others, gentle and kind, laughing, interested in everyone, Dr. Pepper lover, loyal to place (such as Oswego, the Carnegie Library, and Kansas) and people (family, friends), creative (whether through photography or stained glass or flowers), pragmatic, proud, and a woman of integrity. She was a loving aunt and role model to me and my cousins. I will miss her very, very much.

  12. My most vivid memories of Janet are at the Library where I often went as a child. My impression of her as a person formed then, but continued throughout the years as I became an adult. She struck me as being calm and efficient in her work, yet friendly and genuine in her relationships with all those she encountered. One felt she truly viewed them as an individual and really cared what they thought or felt. What a rare quality and one we should all try to emulate. I remember thinking as a child that it was really neat that this special lady had the same first name as me. Janet will be missed so much, but she left an extraordinary legacy that will continue to inspire all those who knew her. Janet King

  13. To me, Janet was an example of beauty, kindness, good humor, intelligence and caring on both an individual and community/world scale. I always enjoyed visiting with her about any topic, including politics, and found we usually agreed! I am so grateful she introduced me to her niece, Megan, who has become a dear friend. I will miss Janet's cheery smile, her optimism and her no-nonsense stance for what is good in this world.

    Robin Oldham
    Oswego, KS

  14. Kristi Schreppel BohannonMarch 12, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Janet introduced me to the first book I ever checked out from the library. I don't remember the author, but I will never forget the worn, blue cover and well used pages of "Betsey's Little Star".
    I recently received and accepted her friend request on facebook. I thought it was so fitting of Janet, that she was keeping up on social networking.
    Rock Chalk, Janet.

  15. Janet was my mother's age. We moved to Oswego when I was not quite 13 and we did not know a single person in town. Being a family of readers, one of the first things my mother did was take us to the library to get cards and familiarize ourselves with it.

    Janet was so very, very kind to my mama. It was not an easy transition for us to such small town life after many years in Kansas City, but the kindness of people such as Janet, Clara Boulware, Annie Stephens and others made it so much easier for my mama.

    I have a multitude of memories of afternoons spent in the Oswego Library. It was a safe haven for a young girl so often out of sync with her peers and Janey seemed to understand that and was always ready with a smile and a recommendation for a book she thought I might enjoy.