Emily Louise Gay Carpenter, 84, of Fredonia, died Thursday, September 20, 2012, in her home, with her children by her side.
Born in Barrington, Rhode Island, on June 20, 1928, she spent her childhood years on the campus of St. Andrews School in Barrington, where her father was a teacher and her mother was the school nurse.
An exceptional athlete as a girl (she played basketball, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, swam, and ran track), for a time she held the record for the youngest girl athlete to earn a varsity letter at Barrington High School. Later, she competed against professional women's softball teams and even tried out for the U.S. Olympic Rifle Team in 1952 before there were separate men's and women's teams. Although she did not make the team, she was the highest ranking woman competitor.
As a young woman, her love of the outdoors led her to work as a lifeguard, a playground supervisor, a physical education instructor, a coach, and as a labor-er for her family's fruit and produce business in Jonesboro, Maine. She fondly remembered a summer she spent working on her uncle's milk truck as a "milkman." She also worked as an assistant administrator for a large girl's summer camp in Maine.
Enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1949, she completed Officer's Training School and became a commissioned officer in 1950. From 1950 to 1953, her commissioned service at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, included serving both as an executive officer and commanding officer of a Women's Army Corps (WAC) detachment. A recruiting officer from 1953 to 1955, her Upper Mid-West territory included Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. A Korean War veteran, she was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Reserves as a Captain in 1962. She was very proud of her service, and over the years she took great pride in the evolving role of women in the U.S. military.
Following her military service, she graduated from Washington State Teachers College in Machias, Maine (later the University of Maine at Machias), with a B.S. degree in Education. While attending Washington State, she met, and married, her music professor, Dr. Thomas H. Carpenter, Sr. They were married for 48 years, until Thomas' death in August 2006.
She pursued a Masters of Education degree at Boston University, but left her studies during the time her children were young.
She was not unlike other exceptional mothers in the sense that she was very involved in her growing children's lives, but at times she was a bit of a pioneer. When her family lived in Greenville, North Carolina (while her husband taught at East Carolina University), she distinguished herself as den mother of the first racially integrated Cub Scout troop in the history of Pitt County, North Carolina. She was also the first woman to coach a boy's Little League baseball team in Greenville when she and other parents stepped in to replace an ill coach.
Later, her volunteer service continued as a committee member for various Boy and Girl Scout organizations, Little League, the Fredonia PTA, and as the ticket sales coordinator for Fredonia High School musicals.
Merging her military ex-perience with a desire to return to the workplace, she served as the Veterans Affairs Coordinator at SUNY Fredonia from 1980 to 1986.
A self-described "tough old New England lady," she reveled in the fact that her beloved Boston Red Sox won not one but two world championships in her life-time. A lover of her ances-tral Down East Maine, her warmth, generosity and sense of humor will be sadly missed by her children, family, friends and loyal pets.
In addition to her hus-band, she was predeceased by her parents, Ernest W. Gay, in 1984, and Florence H. Gay in 1988. She was also predeceased by an in-fant brother, Robert.
She is survived by four children: Kim (Glenn Welch), of North Plainfield, NJ, Tom (Jane Fischer) of Fredonia, Andrew (Cather-ine) of Webster, NY, and Rebecca, of East Aurora, NY.
If friends desire to make memorial contributions in Emily's name, the family suggests donating to the Fredonia Volunteer Fire Department (80 West Main St., Fredonia, NY 14063) or The Lakeshore Humane Society (P.O. Box 12, Fre-donia, NY 14063).
Funeral services will be held Monday evening at 7 o'clock in the McGraw-Kowal Funeral Home. Military honors will be accorded by the Dun-kirk Joint Veterans Coun-cil. Calling hours will be held Monday from 4-7 p.m., three hours prior to the ser-vice. Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetery, Jonesboro, Maine.