Campus remembers late professor

Butler University colleagues and students remember Amos Carpenter as a man of knowledge and humility.

An extremely organized person (though it wouldn’t look that way, according to faculty in the math department), Carpenter was kind, and he encouraged others’ input and questions.

“He always had a great, big smile with a twinkle in his eye,” Bill Johnston, chair of the math department, said. “He was kind and upbeat. He went on to influence others by that. It was his own Butler Way.”

Carpenter died in his home Oct. 30, after his battle with pancreatic cancer. His wife of 46 years, Della, and his daughter, Boi Carpenter-Mellady, survive him.

Carpenter was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He went to England to attend Durham University and University of Leeds and then to the United States to study at Kent State University.

Carpenter came to Butler in 1984. He was the head of the math department from 1992-2000 and again from 2007-2011.

“He was a rock that stabilized the department and upheld the high standards of this department,” Johnston said.

Carpenter was a member of the Mathematical Association of America and received the Distinguished Service Award for the association’s Indiana Section in 2008.

“He was so smart,” Johnston said. “He had a thoroughness that is enviable.”

At the weekly math department meeting, Lacey Echols, coordinator of math support services, remembered Carpenter as someone who loved cheesecake and New Orleans food and who was a wine connoisseur.

She also said he was someone who took an interest in his colleagues.

“He was good at seeing other people’s talents,” Echols said. “He really knew people.”

Kathie Freed, mathematics and actuarial science instructor, said Carpenter not only knew people, but he put everyone at ease.

“He was open to listening,” Freed said. “He never made you think your input wasn’t welcome.

“He would stay with students after class for two hours if he had to. If the student needed another hour, he would stay another hour. It was a part of his giving.”

Junior Lauren Nasci said Carpenter was all about putting students’ learning first.

“You could ask him anything,” said Nasci, who had Carpenter for a complex analysis class. “He was very approachable and amiable. He wanted students to understand the material.”

Sophomore Nathan Ellingsen said he will remember Carpenter for his knowledge.

“There wasn’t something you could ask that he wouldn’t know the answer to,” Ellingsen said. “I really enjoyed having him as a professor.”

Ellingsen said it is unfortunate people won’t be able to take Carpenter’s classes anymore.

“Butler is losing a key component to the math department,” he said.

Nasci said she agreed.

“Butler is losing a great logician, a very friendly man and a math mentor,” Nasci said. “He would find a thousand different ways to teach something to help you understand. He wanted people to learn.”

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