Tim Carpenter, a former Orange County educator and progressive activist who left California for Massachusetts after a Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign to found the Progressive Democrats of America, died Monday of complications from melanoma. He was 55.
"He was a passionate fighter for peace and justice and all causes that are good," Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. "He was a remarkable person with a spine of steel and heart of gold."
Despite battling terminal melanoma for the past couple years, Carpenter had been working with the PDA up until the very end, McGovern said.
The PDA posted this tribute:
Today is a sad day in the PDA family, because Tim has been taken away.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to know him, to work with him, to watch him organize and agitate and mobilize, know that we were connected to someone very special.
Tim Carpenter was a great organizer, one of the best.
He built up PDA from an idea to an organization about to mark its 10th anniversary.
He opposed war with his mind and his body, spending much of his youth in nonviolent civil disobedience.
He lifted up the strategy of "inside/outside," trying to strengthen both the grassroots movements upon which change is ultimately built and linkages with the progressive Congressional leaders and staff responsible for turning agitation into legislation.
Tim loved his family dearly, his wife and his two wonderful daughters.
He loved baseball and hockey.
He loved Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne.
And oh, how he loved politics! He loved grassroots organizing, he loved roaming the halls of Congress, he loved working the phones, he loved talking shop with other activists, he loved political trivia.
And he loved PDA.
We will miss him dearly. He was one of the great ones.
Andrea Miller and Conor Boylan co Executive Directors
Judy, Jeanne, Janis, Mike H, Kimberly, Mike F and Deb, PDA National Staff
Steve Cobble, PDA Political Director
Mimi Kennedy, PDA Advisory Board Chair
Michael Lighty, PDA Advisory Board Member
P.S. If you wish to send remembrances and wishes to Tim's family we have created a special email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a personal note …
Tim taught history and government at high schools around Orange County, including parochial schools. One of my favorite classic OC Weekly moments came when he hosted then-Rep. "B-1 Bob" Dornan in his classroom, and our then music editor, the late, great Buddy Seigel, tagged along with then-editor Will Swaim and became so disgusted, he stormed out and muttered something at the staunchly conservative lunatic.
Since I have known Tim, which seems to have been since around the time Weekly started in 1995, he always kept me in the loop about what he was up to, including in recent years cc'ing and bcc'ing me on PDA emails. Most times it was about national issues or non-local events I really could not do anything with, but sometimes there were strong Orange County angles that warranted coverage.
He ALWAYS let me know when he was returning home, inviting me to PDA events that had him dragging the likes of Mimi Kennedy, Tom Hayden and Mike Farrell behind the Orange Curtain. Wish I could have attended more; that last time I recall seeing him in the flesh was years ago at an election-year union rally in Orange with Loretta Sanchez.
One of the last emails I received from him was about the Advocate of the Year Award he had received at the Progressive Congress Strategy Summit in Philadelphia. I was never able to work it into Navel Gazing which made me feel horrible because I know from his message 1) he was proud to have been well enough to attend the ceremony in person and, 2) he really wanted an excuse to run this photo of his lovely daughters in the Weekly:
Tim Carpenter is also survived by his wife Barbara Considine and will be missed by numerous folks who I know he's inspired to carry the torch in his honor.