Zerle Carpenter

Zerle Leon Carpenter passed away peacefully at the age of 83, on July 23, 2018, at his home in Bryan, Texas. He was born July 21, 1935, in Thomas, Oklahoma, to Mildred and Ronald Carpenter who were devout Christians and lifelong educators. Zerle attended high school in Reed, Oklahoma, where he was involved in basketball and 4-H and where he started his own pork production business.  During summers, he worked with uncles and cousins in custom wheat harvesting.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from Oklahoma A&M in 1957 where he participated on award-winning meat and livestock judging teams. While at Oklahoma A&M, he enlisted in the United States Army and served until his honorable discharge in 1962. On September 8, 1958, he married the love of his life, Eloise “Lou” Hebard. After earning his Ph.D. in meat and muscle biology from the University of Wisconsin, he and Lou relocated to Bryan, Texas, where they reared their children.

Dr. Zerle L. Carpenter was a respected professor and leader in animal science, meat science and agricultural administration. In 1962, he began his 35-year career with Texas A&M University as an assistant professor of animal science. He was named head of the animal science department in 1978 and was named director of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service in 1982. In 1988, he was named associate vice chancellor for agriculture and later served in national advisory roles. Among his notable contributions to U.S. agriculture as a scientist and administrator were his more than 600 articles, papers, abstracts and other professional publications as well as his innovative leadership in Extension programming efforts which became models nationally. In 1987, The American Society of Animal Science awarded him the title of Fellow in recognition of outstanding contributions to the livestock industry.  He retired from Texas A&M in 1997 as Director, Associate Vice Chancellor & Professor Emeritus. Dr. Carpenter was honored throughout his career with awards and accolades. However, he was most pleased when his former students achieved success and recognition in their careers. More recently, Dr. Carpenter was inducted into the Texas A&M Animal Science Hall of Fame in 2013 and was honored by induction into the National Meat Industry Hall of Fame in 2014.

Zerle lived life well with love for his Creator, family and friends.  He enjoyed cattle ranching at the farm in Tabor. He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed golf with his friends during his retirement years. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas, where he served as a deacon, teacher and member of the Business Men’s’ Bible Class. Zerle took time to build relationships with the people in his life through encouragement and loyal friendship.

He was preceded in death by his parents Mildred Catherine Richardson Carpenter and Ronald Carpenter, and his sister, Rhonda Kay Carpenter Chubrich. He is survived by his loving wife, Lou Carpenter of Bryan, TX; daughter, Jane Catherine Carpenter of Stillwater, OK; daughter, Kimberly Carpenter Williamson and son-in-law, Keith Williamson of College Station, TX; granddaughter, Catie Noles and her husband, Jonathan Noles of Stillwater, OK; granddaughters, Kendall and Kellie Williamson of College Station, TX; granddaughter, Kirby Williamson of The Woodlands, TX; and great-grandchildren, Jaden, Kai and Laney Noles.

Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be sent to First Baptist Church, Bryan, TX, for the building fund or to the Texas A&M Foundation in memory of Zerle Carpenter.

A celebration of Zerle’s life will be held at First Baptist Church of Bryan, Texas, on Thursday, July 26 at 2:00 p.m. followed by a reception for all.


  1. Zerle was both a boss and a friend, a person who believed in me and made me believe in myself. I grieve with all his family and share your loss.

  2. My heart is hollow. I grieve. ZLC, Z, Zerle, Dr. Carpenter, by whatever name chosen, he was my mentor, my boss and my friend. He gave me chances and opportunities that help me evolve into the man I am today. I loved him. I love Lou. My sincerest feelings are shared with the family. I pray earnestly for peace.

  3. Just wanted to pass along to the family how much I admired Dr. Carpenter. He was Director of Extension when I interviewed for a specialist position in 1987. I told him I had 3 strikes against me, as I (a) was not an Aggie, (2) was an Okie, and (3) had a degree from Texas Tech. That’s when he told me he was from Reed, OK (I think he actually said Booger Holler, and I was from Hollis; about 20 miles away). Just a reminder that indeed it’s a small world. I always admired his leadership style. I know he lived a full life and was respected by all of us in Extension.

  4. Dr. Carpenter was one of my favorite Directors of Extension. He was always supportive of our programs. He was a very nice man. My prayers for the family as you remember and miss him.

  5. I was very sad to get this news. He was one of my favorite professors and administrators of all time. I will never forget his leadership. A great man. Prayers to the family.

  6. Dr. Carpenter was director of Extension when I was a graduate student, but of course I knew him long before that because my father was a county Extension agent in Llano County! Dr. Carpenter truly believed in Extension and the land grant mission. It was a pleasure to know him and benefit from his agency leadership. Prayers to the Carpenter family and may they find peace in the legacy he left through his work, but most of all because he was a faithful follower of Jesus. In prayer, Randel and Lisa (Kuykendall) Whittlesey

  7. I had the privilege of knowing and working with Zerle as a fellow graduate student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He was a kind generous person and always fun to be around when celebrations were in order. We lost a professional gentleman..He will. E missed

  8. Great man that was respected by all. He was a true leader and lead by example. Dr Carpenter was an admirable advocate for agriculture and Extension. My condolences to the family.

  9. I’m sad to hear of the passing of Dr Carpenter. He was a teacher, leader and friend. I feel Extension was its best under his leadership. Prayers for his family during this trying time.

  10. Zerle and I were not in contact for many years as my career was in Mn, but he was like a big brother to me when I started grad school at Wisconsin in 1961 and we had the same major professor. For a few months we were neighbors, as he and Lou “rescued” us from motel living by notifying us of an apartment across the hall from them in Madison! Zerle became a great friend, mentor and colleague to me when I had to adapt to a much larger university and the rigors of UW grad school. I extend the best wishes and prayers to Lou and the family during this difficult time. He was a special person who became a valued professor and great academic administrator.

  11. Down to earth, approachable and respected are words that come to mind when I think of Zerle Carpenter. He leaves a legacy of knowledge and leadership that will inspire many. Lou, I’ll be thinking of you and praying for the Lords comfort in the days to come.

  12. Heartfelt condolences to Lou, other family members and many friends of Zerle Carpenter. He was my good friend and colleague, and a mentor in the early years of my career. I truly admired him and enjoyed working with him. He was a great man in many ways and leaves a legacy all should admire. He will be truly missed. Rest in Peace, my friend, and I pray for God’s blessings on the family.

  13. Our hearts go out to Jane and to our friends and neighbors, the Noles. We are sorry for your loss will keep you and your entire family in our thoughts and prayers.

  14. I would like to send my condolences to the entire Carpenter family. Dr. Carpenter was a respected man and leader of both agriculture and extension. I feel fortunate to have worked with him when he was serving as Director of Extension. Prayers of comfort to each of you in the days ahead.

  15. Dr. Carpenter hired me back in 1983 which started my 34 year career at The Texas A&M University System. When he walked in to a room, he owned it. He was a leader with integrity, high standards, honesty, and he never asked anything more than what he was willing to do. He believed in people, including me, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities he gave me. Prayers and condolences to his precious family.

  16. To Lou and the entire Carpenter family: Ann and I were so terribly sorry and sad to hear of Zerle’s passing. He was one of the finest people we’ve ever known. I truly admired him, respected him and perhaps most of all loved him as a friend.The years we worked together were some of the happiest I’ve ever known. He was an outstanding scientist, superb administrator and an exceptional leader Most of all, He was a devoted Christian gentleman who epitomized the mission of Extension of helping people help themselves. While we join you in mourning his loss, we strongly believe that we are celebrating his birthday in Heaven. Given the outstanding person he was, it must be a splendid celebration. God be with you all.

  17. To a great man whom I had the privilege to worship Jesus with, and his beloved family. We will worship the Lord together again one great, glorious day.

  18. GOD’S PEACE,COMFORT,& LOVE.HE WAS MY FAVORITE DIRECTOR.WE LOVED&RESPECTED HIS WORK FOR TEXANS. WITH SINCERE SYMPATHY, Sylvia Ann Ashworth Bivins,retired 2003,Family&Consumer Sciences,27 yrs.Polk co.Livingston,Tx.I will continue to lift you up in prayer.GOD BLESS YOUR BEAUTIFUL FAMILY.

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