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Marj Carpenter

Thursday, June 18, 2020
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Marj Carpenter, a pioneer woman journalist in America and former Moderator of the 207th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, died on June 13, 2020. During her tenure as Moderator and News Director of the Presbyterian Church, Marj traveled to over 126 countries to eyewitness what the church was doing in mission around the world. She became known as the “Voice of the Missionaries”.

Marj served as head of the Presbyterian News Service from 1979 through 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia, and at the church headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1985 through 1994. During her final year with the News Service, she served as mission interpreter and spoke to thousands of churches over a period of several years throughout the world on “Mission, Mission, Mission!”

Marj also had 28 years as a field reporter with newspapers in Pecos, Texas, Andrews, Texas, and Big Spring, Texas, and was recognized throughout West Texas as a key journalist, historian, and supporter of the region. She first gained national recognition as a result of her role as a key reporter on “The Pecos Independent” which helped expose the activities of Billie Sol Estes in the 1960s.

In 1991 and 1992 she served as president of the National Federation of Press Women and was once named Communicator of the Year in the United States.

Marj was born in Mercedes, Texas, on August 23, 1926, the daughter of Walter and Beatrice Collier. She graduated as valedictorian of Mercedes High School in 1943. Three years later, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas A & I University in Kingsville, Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in music. Marj also holds three honorary doctorate degrees from Austin College, Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., and Presbyterian Women’s University in Seoul, Korea.

She has authored two mission books, “To the Ends of the Earth”, and “And a Little Bit Farther.” She also wrote a book of her life stories entitled “Get Your Foot Out of the Durn Petunias.” Her “Big Spring Herald” newspaper features were published in two volumes called “Ridin’ Fence”. Marj has been featured in several books, including P.J. Pierce’s “Texas Wise Women Speak: “Let Me Tell You What I’ve Learned” and Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s book, “American Heroines.” She also has received numerous awards, including “Woman of the Year” in Big Spring, Texas, the Bell-McKay Mission Award, and over 130 journalism awards, including the Associated Press Community Service Award based on her follow-up of the Billie Sol Estes scandal in West Texas.

Marj was a member and elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Big Spring, Texas, and has been active in many churches in America, with special focus on church youth. She actively supported both the Girl and Boy Scouts of America for over 50 years.

Survivors include daughter, Carolyn Carpenter Stewart and her husband, Bo, of Winnsboro, Texas, son, Jim Bob Carpenter of Osprey, Florida, three grandchildren, Chad Carpenter of Houston, Texas, Cody Carpenter and wife Camille, of Lubbock, Texas, and Dusty Carpenter of Bradenton, Florida. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Catherine Carpenter, her husband, C.T. Carpenter, Jr., her parents, one brother, and a sister.

Service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Big Spring, Texas, at 10 AM on June 18th. Arrangements will be with Myers & Smith Funeral Home Funeral Home of Big Spring. Visitation will be at Myers & Smith Chapel on Wednesday, June 17th, from 1 PM to 7 PM.

Pallbearers are Don Dillingham, James Horton, Kent Ivey, Doug Mays, Mike Thomas, and John Yater. Honorary pallbearers are Paschal and Jack Odom, Jerry Worthy, Jerry Grimes, Joe Horton, Mark Richardson, Jim Weaver, and Clarence Hartfield.

Memorials may be sent to the music department of the First Presbyterian Church of Big Spring, Texas, the Heritage Museum in Big Spring, Texas, or to the Overseas Mission Agency, Presbyterian Church USA, 100 Witherspoon, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, or to the Presbyterian Outreach Foundation at 381 Riverside Drive, Suite 110, Franklin, Tennessee 37607.