Sep 2, 2014
Obituary: Byron Carpenter

Byron Eugene “Murphy” Carpenter of Grand Haven, Michigan, a long-time supporter of the state’s vegetable industry, died Aug. 28. He was 93.

Carpenter served as executive secretary of the Michigan Vegetable Council (MVC) from 1992 to 1998. He was also a member of the council’s board of directors when it was organized in 1964. He played a significant role in starting the council and expanding its activities when he served as executive secretary, according to Dave Smith, MVC’s current executive secretary.

He and his wife, Phyllis, were vital in organizing and handling registration for the annual Great Lakes Vegetable Growers Convention during his time as executive secretary, Smith said.

Carpenter’s professional career progressed from being a county Extension agent to managing the Michigan Celery Growers Cooperative for 21 years before he retired in 1985. Carpenter was instrumental in helping members of the celery cooperative go from complete hand harvesting of crops to having more than 90 percent mechanically harvested by the time he departed the general manager position.

Carpenter also was executive director of the Michigan Onion Committee, in a part-time capacity, from 1977-91. He held the same position with the Michigan Carrot Committee from 1986-88. From 1984-92, he worked with the Michigan Asparagus Marketing Committee, a division of the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association. He also worked for Wisconsin Farm Bureau.

Born and raised on a farm near Pontiac, Michigan, Carpenter graduated from Lake Orion High School and went on to receive bachelor’s and master of science degrees in animal husbandry and agricultural economics from Michigan State College. He also served as a first lieutenant in the quartermaster’s corps during World War II, stationed in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Carpenter was preceded in death by his first wife, Jane, and his five brothers. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; his sister, Charlotte (Jack) Brown; children, Barbara (George) Stamm of South Carolina, Walter (Heather) Carpenter of Minnesota, Alice (Gary) Harwood of Michigan, Jenny Rangel of Michigan, Jean (Tom) Sbani of Florida, John DeGraaf of Colorado, and Jim DeGraaf of Michigan; 12 grandchildren; 25 great-grandchildren: and three great-great-grandchildren.

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