Dedicated Old Town supporter, business owner Ross Carpenter dies at 79

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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An Old Town Auburn business leader for more than a quarter century, Serendipity owner Ross Carpenter died Sunday at age 79. Carpenter and his wife, Lynn, opened an antiques store in Old Town in 1984 and that business evolved over the years in a new location at 135 Sacramento St. as Serendipity. In his years in business, Carpenter would play key roles in several Old Town endeavors, providing leadership and guidance. “Ross pitched right in to help any way he could,” Lynn Carpenter said. Carpenter served as president of the Old Town Business Association eight times, treasurer once and either first or second vice-president most years in between, Lynn Carpenter said. He started the annual Country Christmas event, established a formal flower-planter placement and maintenance program in the rustic business district, and represented Auburn on the Placer County Economic Development Board for eight years. Reese Browning, co-owner of Old Town Pizza, said that Carpenter provided a calming influence in the sometimes-heated community of Old Town business people. “And he was always looking back at history – Auburn’s or other parts of the world,” Browning said. “He provided us with lessons on how we could apply it today.” Working to bring together disparate interests, Carpenter found the Historic Auburn Business Alliance – an effort to bring Downtown, Midtown and Old Town together for promotion and economic improvement. In 2006, Carpenter was honored as one of 26 people from the Auburn area whose portraits were painted and exhibited at the Auburn Civic Center as examples of those who have made a difference in the community. John Lynch, of Sierra Moon Goldsmiths in Old Town, said that over the 22 years that he had known Carpenter, he had always seen a determination to do something good for the community and businesses. “He and Lynn worked very hard in their business and on behalf of Old Town,” Lynch said. “He was always behind the scenes doing something positive.” In 2003, Carpenter founded the Old Town Auburn Preservation Society – a public benefit corporation that bought and restored two Victorian buildings on Maple Street. For much of the rest of his life, he worked to restore the buildings and open the Gold Country Medical History Museum there. Carpenter was born on Jan. 11, 1932, in Syracuse, N.Y. and raised in the Auburn, N.Y. area. Before coming to Auburn, he worked as an intelligence liaison officer. Where he managed a Bay Area defense project.