|Lonely death for former White
By Melissa MacCrae
I came across an obituary published Monday,
Nov. 25, 2002, that Maine Media Women, MMW, should be aware of. Marion
Carpenter, 82, died late in October. Marion should be remembered as a groundbreaker
who was one of the first women to become an official White House photographer.
According to the Associated Press, she traveled with and covered President
Harry Truman during the 1940s. Yet, her life ended "on her couch, bundled
up tightly against the chill because the thermostat had been lowered to
save money." Her body was discovered Oct. 29, at her home in St. Paul,
I mourn this woman who was among those
who led the charge for women to carve careers in the media. After studying
photography in St. Paul when was in her 20s, she moved to Washington to
take a job at the Times-Herald before setting her sights on the White House
job. She became one of Truman's favorite photographers. She married twice,
the second time to a radio announcer, whom she followed to Denver, where
her son was born in 1950. According to the AP, by late 1951, at age 31,
both her marriage and her career were over. Carpenter returned to St. Paul
and worked as a wedding photographer and as a private nurse to support
herself, her mother and her child. After getting in trouble with the law,
her then 19-year-old son left home, never to return.
"She sounds like the type of woman upon
whose shoulders we all stand," said Susy Shultz, president of the Journalism
and Women Symposium. "It's sad that we don't know more about Marion Carpenter.
The women who came along in the '30s, '40s and '50s had it the hardest.
They were the women breaking paths."
And while Marion Carpenter has no connection
with MMW as far as I can tell, she reportedly has an elderly cousin who
lives in Maine. And as a professional woman journalist, she deserves to
be remembered for opening doors to all of us women