Remembering Joe Carpenter:
An Artist Who Loved Rehoboth
Rehoboth lost an admired artist and well-liked lifelong resident with the death of Joseph A. (Joe) Carpenter Jr. in September at age 93. Joe was the son of Joseph A. Carpenter and Bessie (Peck) Carpenter, and the beloved husband of Nancy (Walker) Carpenter, who died last year.
An accomplished artist, Joe was a graduate of Taunton High School and the Rhode Island School of Design. He was involved in advertising and design, painted watercolor landscapes and oil portraits, in addition to calligraphy, and was especially known for his cartoons. Joe also enjoyed singing and playing the concertina and harmonica.
Joe loved golf and was the author of the cartoon book "Only Golfers Know the Feeling", the humorous journey of a golfer attempting to break 100, in addition to many other cartoons books. During the early days of television, he would draw caricatures on a live local TV show in Providence.
During World War II, Joe served with the 379th Fighter Squadron as an armorer, and he decorated planes with his artwork. He worked for the Allan Halladay Printing Co., and created cartoons and covers for the Rhode Islander magazine in the Providence Journal’s Sunday edition. He was advertising manager at Mason Can, and an art director at the Fram Corporation for 24 years.
Joe was a member of the Providence Art Club since 1952 and served as board member from 1971-1977, 1980-1985. He was a life member of the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society and for 26 years served as a trustee. Joe was instrumental in the Antiquarian Society’s reviving its annual clambake tradition in the 1980’s. His paintings hang in The Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson, Missouri. He exhibited his paintings at the Attleboro Museum, Wheeler Gallery, Providence Art Club, and the Bond Market Association in New York.
He is survived by his daughter, Polly J. Carpenter, grandson Tymor Carpenter Hamamsy and son-in-law Mahmoud El Hamamsy of New York City and granddaughter Karima Carpenter Hamamsy of San Francisco. Joe’s family has asked that any donations in his memory be made to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, 4 Locust Ave., P.O. Box 2, Rehoboth, MA 02769, www.carpentermuseum.org.
Joe’s daughter Polly spoke of how much Joe loved Rehoboth: “He lived here all his life. He played on a local baseball team as a kid and they all raised money for their own uniforms. He always went to Goff reunions. He painted so many scenes in Rehoboth.”
Dick Georgia, publisher of The Reporter, worked with Joe in the marketing department of Fram Corporation for over twenty years. Joe also contributed a number of cartoons to The Rehoboth Reporter from the very first issue in November, 1989. “Joe was the quintessential Rehoboth citizen,” Dick said. “He was a truly nice person and a wonderful friend. I never met anyone who didn’t like Joe,” he said.
The Museum Was Important to Joe
Tom Charnecki, president of the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, shares his memories of Joe Carpenter:
I knew Joe as an artist, supporter of the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, especially the Carpenter Museum, and as a friend. Joe was a talented watercolor artist with his own style which captured the essence of the New England landscapes he portrayed. Of course, we would always look forward to his annual Christmas cards which were creative and reflected his sense of humor and wit. Through the characterizations of his wife Nancy and himself, Joe had a way of bringing out the humor in life’s everyday interactions and events.
As a steady supporter and longtime Trustee of the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, Joe showed his passion for maintaining the legacy of his ancestors and the heritage of Rehoboth. His family was an integral part in the founding of Rehoboth, the establishment of the Society, and the construction and operation of the Carpenter Museum. The land for the Museum was donated by his cousin, Winsor Carpenter, and its operation funded through endowments by Winsor and his mother, Elsie Carpenter. The Museum was important to Joe.
Joe was a typical Yankee, stubborn, frugal, unpretentious, steady, loyal and sometimes a little crusty. I first met Joe in the late 1980’s at a Society Trustee meeting after having been asked to be its Treasurer. The Trustees were then made up of primarily old Yankee family members who operated in the best Yankee style … that is, a lot of cantankerous arguing and bickering. However, all were respectful and considerate of each other, even if they couldn’t agree on much. They all had the welfare of the Society at heart and Joe showed his never- ending loyalty to the purposes and mission of the Society.
I can’t remember a meeting that he missed and he was a significant participant in personnel and fundraising decisions. He and Nancy attended most Museum functions and every annual meeting until prevented by health issues.
I looked forward to visiting Joe and Nancy in their home for one reason or another. They were always warm and welcoming. Joe would offer a drink of something and Nancy usually offered a bite of something. Often, Joe would be found in his gallery, which was his hangout. They were always interested in knowing about my family and what they were up to. We would often talk about the future of the Society and the Museum. Their confidence in me and their encouragement was very meaningful. I am grateful to have known Joe and will miss his inspiration.