Betty A. Carpenter
Ridgely Middle School algebra instructor was honored as Baltimore County’s teacher of the year in 1988
Betty Ann Carpenter, an educator who was named Baltimore County’s 1988 teacher of the year, died of sepsis Sept. 25 at Haven Hospice in Orange Park, Fla. The former Timonium resident was 94. Born in Catonsville and raised on Bishops Lane, she was the daughter of Joseph Leo Gessler, a city plumbing inspector, and Margaret Reuwer, a homemaker.
She attended St. Mark’s School and was a 1940 graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame.
She attended the old Mount St. Agnes Junior College in Mount Washington and earned a degree in chemistry at what is now Notre Dame University of Maryland. She also earned two master’s-equivalent graduate studies degrees.
She met her future husband, C. Barry Carpenter, at a church social function. They attended plays and musicals at Ford’s Theatre and enjoyed picnics together. They married in 1950.
“She was the kind of person who was sensible and looked at things from a positive point of view,” said her brother, Joseph Leo Gessler Jr. of Sparks. “She never spoke a cross word.”
She joined Baltimore City’s public schools and was assigned to teach mathematics in 1944 at the old Gwynns Falls Junior High on Hilton Street.
In 1951, she left to raise a family, then returned to teaching in 1965. She taught algebra at Ridgely Middle School until her 1990 retirement.
“She loved teaching,” said a daughter, Jane C. Bachtell of Fleming Island, Fla. “Even if there was a student who everyone else gave up on, she would say, ‘Oh, no. Give them to me.’ ”
Her daughter described Mrs. Carpenter as a fair teacher who spent extra time with students having difficulty with mathematics
“She made sure they mastered algebra and loved it too — loved it as much as you can love algebra,” she said.
Mrs. Carpenter was featured in The Baltimore Sun in 1988 for her role in staging a Christmas party for East Baltimore children in need from St. Michael’s parish on East Lombard Street. The article noted that for 20 years as a class adviser, she engaged her seventh- and eighth-grade suburban Ridgely School students in hosting the event at their school.
“Before I became adviser, the person before me had the kids bring gloves and mittens in for needy youngsters,” she said in The Sun. “I wanted to have much more personal involvement. Our kids are mostly well off, and just giving gloves and mittens wasn’t personal enough.”
She said after Thanksgiving, the Ridgely students signed up for the event. Some contributed money; others stayed after school to get the room ready. “It’s really a whole school effort,” Mrs. Carpenter said in the article.
The Teachers Association of Baltimore County awarded her its outstanding teacher award in 1975. In 1988 she was named teacher of the year by Baltimore County public schools.
“She was a generous person in the sense she looked after her friends and anyone who needed help,” said Jean-Barry Molz, a cousin by marriage who lives in Towson.
Mrs. Carpenter enjoyed trips to Ocean City and was a veteran traveler.
She taught religious education at St. Joseph’s Church and served on the parish education committee. She was a past president of the Alumnae Association of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland University.
She was also a past president of the Maryland chapter of Delta Epsilon Sigma, the national Roman Catholic honor society.
She enjoyed flowers and arranging them. She was a past president of the Ramblewood Garden Club and the founder of the Ramblewood Junior Garden Club.
Her husband of 38 years, an accountant, died in 1988.
Mrs. Carpenter lived in Timonium until 2012, when she moved to Florida.
A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Joseph Church, 101 Church Lane, in Timonium.
In addition to her daughter and brother, survivors include a son, B. Michael Carpenter of Albuquerque, N.M.; two other daughters, Helen M. Carpenter Schneider of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Susan C. Heiderman of Sarasota, Fla.; two sisters, Carolyn Kornick of Phoenix in Baltimore County and Jean Westerfield of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Betty Carpenter loved teaching and spent extra time with students having difficulties, a daughter said.