Robert Carpenter came to the 81st annual Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce membership banquet Thursday night to serve. Instead, he was honored.
Carpenter thought he was at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center to retire the U.S. and Texas flags after the awards program, in his capacity as part of the Hopkins County Military Coalition and Honor Guard. Instead, he was asked to step to the podium to receive the 2012 Hopkins County Citizen of the Year award, sponsored by Echo Publishing.
Walking to the stage teary-eyed and through a standing ovation, Carpenter spoke briefly, saying, “I couldn’t be more honored.”
Clayton McGraw, the 2011 Citizen of the Year and a close friend to Carpenter, expounded on what made him so deserving of the honor.
“This guy does it all,” McGraw said, saying Carpenter started volunteering at an early age; in the fourth grade, he was safety patrol escorting students across the street. At 15, he was leading singing at a small country church.
“His everyday life is a testimony to Christianity.” McGraw said. “He’s dedicated to church work. He’s worked in bus ministry, taught Sunday school classes from first grade through senior adults and delivers church bulletins to nursing homes.”
In addition, Carpenter served as president of the Dad’s Club at Lamar school, served on the Mount Sterling Cemetery board, was a member of the Hopkins County grand jury, taught first aid classes and is an active volunteer at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.
But, it has been Carpenter’s tireless work as member of the Hopkins County Military Coalition and founding member of the Hopkins County Veterans Memorial Organization that was instrumental in his recognition. He helped oversee construction of the Veterans Memorial and personally signed up more than 800 veterans to have their names engraved on the memorial.
“He serves as a volunteer member of the Hopkins County Military Coalition and has done an untold number of military funerals, where his duty is to fold the flag and present the flag to the bereaved family,” said McGraw, who also serves on the coalition. “He distributes flag books to all sixth graders in Hopkins County schools, serves on the Honor Guard duty.”
Retired from the Texas Department of Transportation, Carpenter was born and educated in Hopkins County, and McGraw said the only time he believes Carpenter lived outside the county was when as a member of the Texas National Guard, the 49th Division was called to active duty during the Berlin crisis. He retired from the Texas National Guard at a rank of Sgt. 1st Class.
True to his state and country, Carpenter is also true to his family. When his wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, “he cared for her faithfully through her illness and treatments. In 2012, when his son was diagnosed with cancer, he stood by him in surgery and his recovery,” McGraw said. “I believe this individual’s greatest pleasure is watching his grandson [Beau Carpenter] play offensive left guard for the Texas Tech football team.”
His family’s great pleasure Thursday night, was watching him accept a well-deserved award.
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