Lewis Gibbs Carpenter, Jr. – Napa Valley Register

Lewis was raised in Hillsborough, Calif., and at the family ranch near Gilroy. It was there that he developed lifelong love of the outdoors and of agriculture.

As a child, he attended Hillsborough Grammar School and Los Alamos School for Boys, boarding school in New Mexico. He then attended Dean School in Santa Barbara and Hotchkiss School, Connecticut.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford in 1939, majoring in physiology and genetics. In 1941, he received his master’s degree from Stanford in psychology, and his PhD in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950.

From 1941 to 1945, he served in the United States Air Force as a psychologist in the U.S. and in Europe. His work was creating psychological measures for the selection of air crew personnel, pilots, navigators, bombardiers and radar operators.

Following the granting of the doctorate, Lewis Carpenter worked as a clinical psychologist at Langley Porter Clinic and at UCSF Hospital, where he was engaged also in research in hypertension. He carried a private practice in the city. For many years, he worked at Napa State Hospital, largely with psychotic women.

A further aspect of his career was that of lobbyist in Sacramento. He represented the State Psychological Association, before the legislature and regulatory bodies for 20 years during which time he participated in most of the decisions that govern the delivery of mental health care today.

Lewis Carpenter moved to St. Helena in the late 1950s, residing at the same address as at the time of his death. He grew prunes, walnuts and grapes in the early years, gradually expanding vineyards to 155 acres today.

He was married to Suzanne Bocqueraz from 1942 to 1964 and to Elfy Schreckenberger of Heidelberg, Germany and Luzern, Switzerland from 1965 to the present. He had a brother, Gardner Carpenter, a sister, Barbara Crosset, both deceased; a daughter, Claire, and a son, David, both deceased.

He is survived by his wife, Elfy; two children, Thomas Carpenter (wife Lynn) and Susan Handly (husband Craig); a grandson, Spencer Handly; granddaughters, Tristyn Carpenter and Laura Le Derout; and a great-grandson, Philipe Le Derout; as well as a nephew and a niece who reside in Europe; and Miriam Armstrong, his longtime loyal and devoted friend and secretary.

Endowed with a brilliant mentality, totally lacking in the parade of pride, or the arrogance sometimes born of unusual achievement, leaving as his heritage to all of us, the gracious memory of a courteous gentleman.

Lewis has been active with the Napa County Farm Bureau and with Hospice of the Napa Valley. In 1972, he was one of the founders of the Napa Valley Heritage Fund.

Donations in his name may be made to these organizations, in lieu of flowers.

Arrangements will be personal and private.

(The following are memories of Lewis Gibbs Carpenter, Jr. from family members.)

On the occasion of his 90th birthday Thomas (Lewis’s son) wrote:

“Ninety years, what a milestone! You were about my age when you came into my life some 42 years ago. Those years have all been very special to me because of the love, knowledge and wisdom that you have bestowed upon me. It is very difficult to put into words the gratitude and love that I feel for you.

It is amazing how much has changed in the last century. Just think of the Wright Brothers in 1903, a mere 13 years before your birth, taking to the skies. What would they think of the space shuttle missions today, to the orbiting space station miles above the earth or to men on the moon and a soon to be established colony there?

As America transformed from an agrarian society to an industrialized nation and now into the information age and beyond, it is wonderful to still live an agrarian lifestyle with access to all the new found technology, but with solace in the fact that we can still live a farming lifestyle. Without your guidance throughout my lifetime, I would not appreciate that.

I rarely look at a piece of wood or any form of flowing or static water, be it a raging river or a puddle beneath a sink spout, without thinking of you. Wood and water ... necessities of life. Of course we all need a well-tended garden and a good bottle of wine as well — all things I learned from you.

I will always remember, with love, cutting driftwood on the beach in Mendocino with a two-man crosscut saw with you, diving for pumps in the raging Napa River as it rapidly rose, cleaning out the spring at Cross Creek, tinkering with sprinklers in the shop prior to month of freezing temperatures, good times spent about the potbelly stove at home, and so much more.

Thank you for all of it and everything else, too. Have a great 90th with many more birthdays to come.

Happy birthday!



On the occasion of his 96th birthday, Spencer (Lewis’s grandson) wrote:

“Happy birthday, Papa!

I’m imagining you driving down Main Street wooing all the ladies in the bright red Ferrari “Omi” bought you today, since you passed the driving test — yet again. They are all jealous of Omi (riding shotgun) and Bella (front and center), a wise man and his woman. Reading three books while he is at the wheel — consuming knowledge isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of life.

His Hawaiian shirt flaps carelessly in the breeze, yet his hair remains untouched. A man who defies nature controls it. Heads turn and compliments are spoken silently as everyone is too awe-struck to raise their voice above a whisper.

He tears through the woods of Deer Park, until arriving at his home amidst the trees that overlook his land. Here, he lights a roaring fire. A fire that provides his family warmth and shines like a lantern attracting the heron, the fox, the deer; all who respect and admire his worldliness and compassion. You are the man of all men, Papa, and you deserve nothing but the best on this day.

Can’t wait to see you in 11 days.



On the occasion of his 90th birthday, Tristyn (Lewis’s granddaughter) wrote:

“I like you more than ice cream, Papa.

Happy birthday.



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