HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - James Ray Carpenter, a Runnelstown native and 25th president of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, died Wednesday in Hattiesburg. He was 91.
Carpenter was born on Dec. 12, 1926. Always involved in sports, Carpenter was an all-state football and basketball player in high school.
Carpenter played baseball and basketball for the University of Southern Mississippi in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He was a standout in both sports, but he wouldn’t get involved in golf, the sport that would shape the rest of his life, until later in life.
Carpenter graduated from USM with a master’s degree in physical education in 1951. He then served in the U.S. Air Force for three years before returning to civilian life in Mississippi.
A client first introduced Carpenter to the game of golf in 1959. He was 33 at the time.
Five years later, he became a physical education instructor at USM and was also the head pro at the university’s golf course. He coached golf at USM from 1968 to 1980.
Carpenter was elected to PGA of America membership in 1969. He served as president of the Gulf States PGA Section in 1975 and then served on the PGA Board of Directors from 1980 to 1982.
Carpenter was elected to serve as President of the PGA in 1987 and 1988.
Carpenter was inducted into the M-Club Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame, the Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Gulf States PGA Hall of Fame. He will be inducted into the Hattiesburg Hall of Fame on Oct. 4.
Memorial services honoring Carpenter’s life will be held this week at Hardy Street Baptist Church. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The memorial service is Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon.