Dan Carpenter, a member of the South Tyler Rotary Club, has received the Rotary International’s Service Above Self Award. This award is RI’s prestigious honor that recognizes Rotarians who demonstrate Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self,” by volunteering their time and talents to help others. The award is internationally competitive and is granted to no more than 150 Rotarians worldwide. To understand the significance of this award, it is important to note that Rotary International is comprised of 35,000 Rotary Clubs with 1.2 million members.

Carpenter’s charitable work began in 1998 when he and his wife, Carol, established their own 501(c)(3) to do work in Central America. He has been selflessly involved in emergency response activities to alleviate human suffering since that time. He shipped food and clothes to Honduras after Hurricane Mitch pounded that country for 10 days, leaving 19,000 people dead and thousands more in need. In 2001, he shipped food and clothing in response to El Salvador’s earthquake and then flew to El Salvador to help. He worked on tsunami relief in 2004 in Indonesia where 230,000 died. In 2005, Carpenter shipped 22 semi-trailer loads of bananas and $7 million of medical supplies to a triage center in Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area. He worked in Myanmar in 2008 to set up water purification after an earthquake left 70,000 dead and 18,000 missing. In 2010, he was in Pakistan climbing high mountain roads to reach villages in need after an earthquake left 80,000 dead. In total, he has been personally responsible for shipping 2,500 40- to 52-foot long containers of food and supplies to Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Carpenter continues to visit Honduras four-to-five times a year, for two-to-three weeks at a time. He spends his own funds for travel, housing, and food.

Carpenter enlisted in the US Navy after graduating from high school and served seven years, advancing in Admiral Rickover’s nuclear submarine fleet. After the Navy, he graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in chemistry and then earned his master’s in nuclear physics. Carpenter then had a 30-year career as a nuclear physicist and worked for several government agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He worked on numerous nuclear projects and was considered by many to be the premier trouble-shooter as he visited many nuclear sites to resolve significant challenges.

According to Lee Montgomery, District Governor for Rotary District 5830, who nominated Carpenter for this distinguished honor, “Dan Carpenter has repeatedly worked for others who are suffering and in great need.” As he has responded to disasters around the world, “Dan has been able to marshal a strong network of donors, providers, and shippers into action for people in need,” Montgomery said.

A Rotarian since 2008, Carpenter has been a member of South Tyler Rotary since 2013. His wife says that he avoids the limelight and just wants to serve. Montgomery stated: “Truly, Dan Carpenter embodies the Rotary International motto ‘Service Above Self.’”