Longtime Gaston County Commissioner Joe Carpenter Dies at 84
GASTONIA, N.C. – Longtime Gaston County Commissioner Joe Carpenter died Sunday at the age of 84.
Carpenter represented the Crowders Mountain Township from 1988 to 1992 and again from 1998 to 2016, serving a total of 22 years on the board. He spent 7 of those years serving as either the chair or vice-chair of the board.
The Gaston County Visitor’s Center was named in his honor in 2016, in appreciation of his lifetime of service to the county. He played a significant role in economic development activities in the county for the past three decades and was a founding members of the Gaston County Economic Development Corporation.
“Joe Carpenter had a major influence on our economic development program for more than 30 years. His consistent support, guidance, foresight and leadership created much of the organization and the assets, such as The Summit, Gastonia Technology Park and SouthRidge Business Park, which have built and strengthened our economy,” Gaston County EDC Executive Director Donnie Hicks said. “His legacy will be one of taking the right actions for the benefit of the citizenry, always being focused on creating a better future and for giving much of his life to public service.”
Current Board Chairman Tom Keigher was first elected to the board in 1998, during the same election where Carpenter was to begin his second – and most lengthy – stint with the board. He described Carpenter in glowing terms.
“Joe and Gloria and my wife Donna and I spent a lot of time together over the last 20 plus years,” Keigher said. “Joe worked harder than any one person I know to improve the economic growth on behalf of Gaston County.”
In addition to his service on the Gaston County Board of Commissioners, Carpenter served Gaston County as a founding member of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, spent 14 years as a member of the Centralina Council of Governments, served 12 years on the Gaston College Board of Trustees, in addition to time on numerous other boards and commissions.
Longtime Gaston County Attorney Chuck Moore said numbers alone don’t begin to tell Carpenter’s accomplishments on behalf of the county.
“I will always remember Joe for his gentle nature as a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” Moore said. “This gentle nature sometimes hid the amazing political courage Joe brought to the realm of local government. He was always a strong advocate both with the Board of Commissioners and with the State Association of Commissioners for the things that he believed should be done, even when these things were not politically popular. Each time I saw Joe advocate for a practical solution to a political problem that would face strong headwinds, I was reminder of my own grandfather who was a county commissioner in Virginia.
“I think that is why I always enjoyed his company. Both conservative and practical, he was a role model we should all appreciate.”
Carpenter was instrumental in the creation of Gaston Family Health Services Inc. (now Kintegra Health) in 1991, which addressed a crisis-level physician shortage in Gaston County and helped alleviate a growing burden on the county’s emergency department at its local hospital.
Robert Browne, the chairman of the Gaston EDC Board, said Carpenter’s passion for making Gaston County a better place was ever evident.
“Joe was the ultimate champion for all things that would be of benefit and prosper Gaston County,” Browne said. “Whether it was caring for individuals via input into DHHS issues, economic growth through serving on the EDC Board, or willingly serving and providing input on the outside Transportation Boards he served on. Joe and his commitment to making Gaston County a better place to live and work will be greatly missed.”
Joe Carpenter was a lifelong resident of Gaston County and was married to his wife, Gloria, for 65 years.