By Cliff Dunn
Greater Fort Lauderdale lost a friend last week, as Jan D. Carpenter, respected business and community leader and loving partner of Dale Russell, passed away October 2. Carpenter, born January 17, 1949 in White Bear Lake, Minnesota (“Go Bears!”), attended Bemidji State University before accepting a management position with Target Corporation, a job that would take him to Denver for 25 years.
Carpenter spent time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before going to Houston as Senior Vice President for BankOne. While living in Space City that Carpenter met his future life and business partner, Dale Russell, who was at the time living in Dallas. “We were one of the original ‘AOL Couples,’” Russell recalls. The two would move to Savannah, Georgia, where Carpenter became a senior manager for Pitney Bowes. That company would eventually bring him to Florida, as Director of Offshore Operations.
“It was the greatest time in his life,” says Russell, who came to South Florida with Carpenter in 2003. “He travelled around the world 36 times.” He retired in 2009, although retirement for him meant going to work full time with Russell, in their Dale Russell Network (DRN) real estate firm.
The successful brand enable Carpenter and Russell (a past President of the Pride Center at Equality Park) to participate in the joys and challenges of the LGBT community of which they became such an integral part, including serving on the boards of several not for- profit and philanthropic groups.
“He was always there, no matter the cause to further the LGBT community,” remembered Carl Marzola, President of Atlantic Properties International, which serves as the broker for DRN. “He has done so much as an activist. He once said to me, Carl, I believe in Wilton Manors, because it’s a community where I—you, any gay person—can feel comfortable, safe, and not be judged. He helped make this place that reality.”
Christopher Dunham, President of Dunham Insurance Services, said that Carpenter was “a beautiful and loving man, and such an asset to our community.” Russell, his partner of 16 years— their anniversary is tomorrow, October 11—said that Carpenter “was full of life. He could walk into a room and just become its centerpiece. He had that forceful of a personality.”
To honor Carpenter’s philanthropic history, Russell has established the Jan Carpenter Fund, to benefit the Bears of South Florida (BOSFL), a charitable organization that disseminates funds to local service and non-profit groups. Russell says that friends of Carpenter’s and others who would like to remember him in the spirit of generosity should make a contribution to BOSFL, 1170 N Federal Hwy, Suite 401, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. BOSFL is a 501 (c)(3) , and donations are tax deductible.
A private memorial event in Carpenter’s honor will be held at the end of October at the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors