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.