Tim Carpenter rallies Lily Tomlin, James Cromwell and other progressives in LA on June 1, 2013.
Tim Carpenter rallies Lily Tomlin, James Cromwell and other progressives in LA on June 1, 2013.

Tim Carpenter, OC-Turned-National Progressive Activist, to be Subject of Memorial in Orange

Tim Carpenter, the recently deceased national progressive activist who has been feted on the East Coast, is now getting a hometown memorial.

Tim Carpenter, OC Activist Who Left to Found Progressive Democrats of America, Dies

Calling themselves "Friends of Tim," a group of close pals and fellow Southern California progressives will remember Carpenter from 7 to 10 p.m. June 9 at the Plumbers, Steamfitters, Welders & Apprentices Local Union 582 Union Hall at 1916 W. Chapman Ave., Orange.

The evening includes a potluck dinner of Mexican food (Carpenter's favorite), but heads will be fed the spoken-word remembrances from friends, Progressive Democrats of America staff members (he co-founded the national organization) and elected officials or their representatives. Organizers learned Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) cannot attend as Congress will be in session, but other invitees include Governor Jerry Brown, Santa Ana Mayor Miquel Pulido, Irvine City Councilman Larry Agran, Democratic Party of Orange County Chairman Henry Vandermier and, of course, Tom Hayden.

When Carpenter would come back to Southern California from Massachusetts for PDA events, progressive first ballot Hall of Famer Hayden was often a special guest. And Hayden recently remembered Carpenter, who passed away April 28 after a long battle with melanoma, on TomHayden.com. His post began:

Tim Carpenter is being buried today, May Day, in western Massachusetts; one of a long line of American revolutionary patriots fallen there. Left behind are his wife Barbara, two daughters, Julia and Sheila, and many thousands of activists, radicals, and progressive Democrats to fill his place.


If a monument ever is built to Tim it should be dedicated to The Activist, the unknown soldier of peace.

Tim was a rare combination of Catholic Worker, grape boycotter, the No Nukes resister, and constant campaigner for progressive and insurgent Democrats all along the way. He also defied his terminal cancer diagnosis for decades. But he knew he could not defeat death itself, and accepted his fate heroically. On Saturday night, it is said, Tim took his youngest daughter out for a steak dinner; on Monday night, he was gone.

Speaking of homecomings, Carpenter said this when he gave the final remarks at a PDA fundraiser in Los Angeles on June 1, 2013: "It's not often you get to come home. I grew up behind the Orange Curtain, and as a young person 31 years ago we began marching and calling attention to San Onofre, and as we are celebrating little victories tonight San Onofre Unit 2 is shut down indefinitely."

It was fighting against the nuclear-power station three decades ago when Carpenter would make the contacts with other activists who would become his most cherished friends. At that LA event, the PDA's national director explained what bound them together:

"We are a community that believes, as you heard from the speakers tonight, that a small group of dedicated people, working both inside and outside the political system, can bring about real change whether it be at the grassroots, whether it be at city council meetings or whether it be risking arrest or getting the president's attention.

"... We believe in working inside and outside the democratic party as an insurgency. ... Yes, we do love the Democrats but we can do a whole lot better. We need to elect a progressive Democratic majority."

He fought the good fight right until the end. Watch the full address here:

And then RSVP to fot2014oc@hotmail.com if you plan to attend the memorial in Orange. Note seating will be limited and parking will be available in the rear of the Union Hall. You're asked to bring your favorite Mexican food dish and $20 that will be donated to the "Considine-Carpenter Family Fund" in Florence, MA.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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