Rider mourns the loss of former Athletics Director John Carpenter
John Barker Carpenter of Avon Park, Fla., who led Rider's men's basketball team to 292 wins — more than any other coach in University history — died at home on April 14, 2017. He was 86 years old.
Carpenter coached the Rider men’s basketball team for 23 seasons, from 1966 to 1989. His total career win tally of 292 set the record for most wins for a Rider basketball coach — 105 more wins than the second-winningest basketball coach. Carpenter took the 1983-84 team to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
In addition to being a coach, he was also Rider’s longtime athletic director, a role in which he placed primary emphasis on the academic side of the college experience. During his tenure, Rider athletics grew from four to 16 sports.
Born in Ulysses, Pa., Carpenter was a longtime resident of Lawrence Township, N.J., and Sebring / Avon Park, Fla.
A standout high school athlete in both basketball and baseball, he signed and played minor league baseball for the Boston Red Sox before joining the Army. He served in the Army for six years as a communications officer before attending Penn State University where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in higher education.
While employed as both a teacher and coach at Gettysburg College, he founded Camp Gettysburg Basketball Camp, which, in 1964, was a pioneering model for sports specialty camps and became a summer networking hub for basketball coaches at the high school and college level across the East Coast.
In 1978, Carpenter was head coach for the USA Basketball team at the first US Olympic Festival, a competition held in between Olympic years, where the team won the silver award. In 1979, he traveled to Argentina as assistant coach of the U.S. basketball team at the International Cup Games.
An eight-year member of the National Basketball Rules Committee, he had served in key positions in several East Coast leagues and associations. Additionally, he was the first full-time commissioner of the East Coast Conference before moving to Sebring, Fla., where he kept busy selling financial investments and playing golf.
An active church member, he served as deacon at Whispering Pines Baptist Church in Sebring, Fla.
Son of the late George and Eloise Carpenter, brother of the late Marion (Mike) and Gilberte Carpenter, and husband of the late Illa Irene (nee Dunham) Carpenter, he is survived by sister and brother-in law Kathryn (Kitty) and Eldon Price of Clearwater Beach, Fla.; brother and sister-in-law Gary and Jary Carpenter of Ewa Beach, Hawaii; daughter and son-in-law Karen and Mark Thurmond, of Collierville, Tenn.; sons and daughters-in-law John B. Jr. and Marie Carpenter of Marietta, Ga., Terry and Valerie Carpenter of Sunbury, Pa., Christopher and Sara Carpenter of Pennington, N.J.; and Scott Carpenter of Sanford, Fla.; 12 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters; and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made online in Coach John Carpenter’s name at the Coaches vs. Cancer division of the American Cancer Society.
A service will be on Oct. 21, 2017, at 11 a.m. in Marietta, Ga. Those wishing additional information should they wish to attend or send remembrances/condolences should contact John Carpenter Jr. at [email protected].