Carol Carpenter was born on Oct. 5, 1945, and went to be with the Lord Oct. 4, 2021, after a courageous battle with small cell carcinoma. Carol is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Nancy Luke Carpenter who cared for him and was by his side throughout every moment of his illness; their sons Luke (Raena) and Hunter (Alyse), daughter Molly Jane, and lovingly known as “Papa” by grandchildren Jane (8) and Grant (6). He is also survived by his brother Wayne (Sherry), sister-in-law Molly Luke Leiner (Jon), nephews Brian Carpenter (Marti) and Matt McCollough (Bonnie), and niece Lee McCollough Kindwall, as well as three great-nephews, several cousins, teammates, and friends.
Carol was born in Biggersville, the son of Terry and Mae (Strickland) Carpenter and grew up on their family farm in Corinth where his father, a carpenter, teacher, and farmer raised chickens. Carol’s mother passed when he was just fourteen years old, following her own battle with cancer. Carol was raised, alongside his brother, Wayne, to learn the lessons of hard work while growing up on a farm. He often told of feeding fifteen thousand chickens with his mother and brother every morning before school. At a young age, Carol’s athletic prowess shown bright. Carol lettered in football, basketball, track, and tennis for the Corinth High School Warriors and graduated in 1965. While competing for the Warriors football team under Coaches Ray Long and Bob Tyler, Carol was twice named All-Big Eight North Conference starting offense, defense, and special teams and was awarded the Bill Stewart Award in the Mississippi All Star Game. Carol was also a terrific tennis player, learning the game under the instruction of legendary judge and politician Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat.
Carol then attended the University of Mississippi on a football scholarship playing under legendary coach Johnny Vaught. While at Ole Miss, Carol was inducted into the M Club and was a member of the Epsilon Xi chapter of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. Carol later served as Grand Chaplain for the Sigma Nu Fraternity’s High Council, appointed by the Regent.
Carol majored in business while at Ole Miss and began his professional career working in numerous sales and credit lending positions, including for International Harvester. Carol was raised in a loving Christian home by Terry and Mae but his life would forever change when he accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior while living in Murray, Kentucky in 1975. It was then that he made a public profession of faith and vowed to let the teachings of Christ instruct his every behavior to the best of his abilities.
Carol met Nancy Rea Luke, daughter of Walter Gleason “Scrap” Luke and Juanita Hagan Luke of Union, MS in 1980 after being introduced by lifelong friends, Hap and Robyn Farber. Carol and Nancy would marry June 12, 1981, just ten months later. They made roots in Northeast Jackson and gave birth to two sons and a daughter Luke (1982), Hunter (1984), and Molly Jane (1986).
During this time, Carol was ordained in the Southern Baptist Church while serving as a deacon at Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Jackson and went to work for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) organization as an instrument of God. Carol and his family moved in Columbus in 1990 where he stayed with the organization for more than ten years and helped grow the organization to over 390 campuses across the state, working as a regional field representative for north Mississippi. This included helping lead the meetings at Columbus High School where his children attended and a stint as team chaplain for his wife Nancy’s alma mater, Mississippi State University. He often joked that even Bulldogs needed to hear about Jesus. Carol also served as chairman of the deacons at First Baptist Church in Columbus and as a member of the board of directors for the local YMCA.
Following his time at FCA, Carol began his own ministry called Christians at Work, where he helped businesses across Mississippi set up internal and voluntary devotional meetings at businesses around the state. In 2003, Carol became the inaugural Executive Director of the College Charity Bowl Foundation, an organization he and other Ole Miss Sigma Nu alumni, including Carson Hughes and Dr. Jimmy Davis, formed to help Sigma Nu chapters across the country start their own philanthropies modeled after the annual Charity Bowl run by the Epsilon Xi Chapter following the devastating injury of Chuck Mullins in 1989. Each year, in honor of Chucky Mullins, Sigma Nu selects an individual living with paralysis as the primary recipient of Charity Bowl. In the years since its inception, Charity Bowl has grown to be the largest single-chapter Greek philanthropy event in the nation, raising more than $2 million for its recipients.
Carol lived an enormously full life, leaving behind many friends and teammates who thought highly of the Lord’s dramatic transformation of him in Christ and his willingness to serve others. He spoke openly about his faith to anyone who would listen - and many did. Former teammates of his and his children have commented that Carol’s tremendous witness to them showed how a transformation in Christ was possible. Whether it was in his involvement in the North Mississippi Emmaus Community, as an officer in the CHS Falcon Touchdown Club, FCA as a staffer for more than 18 national camps, or mentoring local youth - Carol always gave all glory to our risen savior for this God-given ability and platform. Carol was grateful to be considered a vessel for the message of Christ in both his professional and personal lives.
Pallbearers for the service include Brian Carpenter, Jeffrey Duckworth, Andrew Ford, Dr. Richard Lancaster, and Matt McCollough.
Honorary Pallbearers include Justin Alfred, Joe Blount, Bo Bowen, Dr. Eddie Bozeman, Dr. Cliff Chunn, Dennis Coleman, Hap Farber, Bobby Gorman, Bill Gorman, Miller Hartzog, Charles Huff, Carson Hughes, Tommy Irwin, Todd Reeves, Frank Trapp, Joe Vann, Mike Waters, Jimmy Wilson, and members of the Ole Miss football team (1965-1970), members of the Epsilon Xi Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity, and members of the Joey Henderson and Steve McEwen Sunday school class.
Visitation took place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 10 with a celebration of life service beginning at 3 p.m., both at First Baptist Church - 202 7th Street North, Columbus, MS 39701. Burial service at Friendship Cemetery immediately followed. Arrangements are being handled by Memorial Gunter Peel Funeral Home & Crematory 716 2nd Ave N Columbus, MS 39701.
The family requests donations be made to First Baptist Church in Columbus https://www.columbusfbc.org/give and the Sigma Nu Charity Bowl at https://www.sigmanucharitybowl.com/donate-online.