A Remembrance of Chris Carpenter

We mourn the loss of Chris Carpenter, a long-time active Bay Area birder. Chris died in December at the age of 82.

Chris was a mainstay of local birding, beginning in the 1970’s, pursuing rarities and leading field trips for Golden Gate Bird Alliance. An annual weekend-long late February field trip that he co-led with Peter White was a real favorite. On Saturday, Chris would stuff his lanky 6’ 8” frame into a compact car, then lead a chain of cars through Panoche Valley, halting whenever his eyes or his keen ear detected interesting bird activity. At nightfall the group gathered for an enjoyable dinner at a Basque restaurant in Los Banos, fortifying themselves before Peter took over to bird the refuges and fields east of I-5 on Sunday.

Chris played basketball at the University of California from 1961 to 1964, and remained close to Cal, especially the athletic department, thereafter. I understand he was especially proud that for several years he held the Cal record for total fouls in a season. A Kensington native, he earned both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Cal and began his professional career as a prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office.

Over the years, I probably ran into Chris at a Cal basketball game nearly as often as in the field. No matter where we met, we would always interrupt whatever we were doing and spend a few minutes chatting, Chris towering over me as we shared a story and a smile. He was a warm, welcoming man who brightened the time that anyone spent with him.

I’ll miss him.

Dave Quady

January 23, 2024