Will D Anecdotes

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Over the course of Dr. Will D Carpenter’s illustrious career, he has become acquainted with hundreds, if not thousands of people. At the time of his retirement from Monsanto and during the writing of this book, many people have offered thoughts on their experience with Will. Below are just a few examples of shared remembrances.

ANECDOTES:

An often told story at Monsanto is how, during meetings at the company, Will would sometimes (usually when he had a strong opinion on the topic) pull out his pocket knife and begin carving on whatever aluminum drink can he might have in his hand at the time. He would carve and carve, and the resulting “sculpture” would be somethinglike a foot and a half long spiral Christmas Tree Ornament. The scenario occurred enough times to be legendary at the company.

We were invited to a Cincinnati wedding about two years ago.  We knew only the parents of the bride, and no one else in attendance.  Our hosts made an effort to seat us with people that might have common interests, and among them was a 60 year old engineer with a decidedly southern accent.  We asked him where he was from, and he said “the Mississippi Delta.”  When we told him we had a good friend from Moorhead, he said “why I went to junior college at Moorhead, who was your friend?”  I said Will Carpenter, and he replied “I’ve never met him, but everyone knows his name, he’s a legend in our State.”  Not surprising, given everything Will has done in his life, in Mississippi, Indiana and Missouri.                      Dr. Peter Kay Former DuPont Executive

At a NATO meeting Will said, “The chemical industry discussing chemical weapons with NATO would be like a pig having a discussion with the chef about a ham and eggs breakfast. One would tend to have more than the usual interest in the discussion.”

 One unique Monsanto memory:  I was the HR person for Will’s organization, which by that time (early 1980s) included some pretty high-powered people reporting to him. The decision had been made to terminate one of these HPPs.  All legal hurdles to termination had been cleared and the date set to inform the individual. I was very nervous. I felt that this particular individual was not stable, and could pose a threat. Although there was leadership agreement that the individual should have been let go years before, status quo had prevailed–probably because everyone recognized the possibility of danger. So, nothing was done…until Will decided to do what he felt was the right thing for the business. 

I had been involved in a termination while working at one of Monsanto’s plants years earlier, where a professional employee, upon learning that he was being terminated started swinging. (He connected with his boss’s face, missed the HR superintendent who had slid under the desk, and, forcefully moved me aside as he left, saying, “I wouldn’t hurt you little lady.”)   He was a huge guy.  I clearly recall being grateful that he wouldn’t punch a girl, amazed at the amount of blood coming from his boss’s face, and impressed at how quickly the pudgy HR super had managed to hide. This time, I vowed, we’d take no chances.  I had security standing by and we had an action plan in place that General Patton would have been proud to own.  I took the day off.  “Call me when it’s over,” I said.  I was tense.  Will, however, was determined.  He had been in the Korean War, after all. 

The outcome?  The fellow collected his things in the traditional banker’s box and was escorted from the building.  Business went on.Lee Phillion  Former Human Resources Manager at Monsanto

Will Carpenter is one of those personal heroes that  serve as a role model for what one might aspire to in adulthood (if I ever get there).  There isn’t a nicer and more congenial person anywhere.  While he won’t tolerate inferior performance, rudeness, or bad taste, Will has a unique way of leading folks towards being the best they can be in a way that is proactive and supportive, and always well received.  He has an ability to explain things in simple terms, and always seems to find a funny anecdote or historical tidbit that is appropriate to the discussion at hand. In short, he is the quintessential Southern Gentleman, in every best sense of the word.  I feel fortunate to count him as a friend. –Dr. Pete Kay  Former DuPont Executive

When we worked at Monsanto I was typically in the office in the morning before most other people. One person who was typically in before me was Will. In the earlier days I viewed Will as a great mentor. He was firm but also wanted to help so that we got it right. Some people thought that Will can be stubborn. I’d say he has strong views but if presented with the right information and data can be convinced to change his mind. Those who thought he was stubborn perhaps did not provide high quality information.

I was traveling with Will on a project in Mississippi and someone there told me that probably everyone in agriculture in Mississippi knows Will Carpenter. Perhaps that was an exaggeration but not by much. I realized that everyone who was important in agriculture in Mississippi (and in DC and other states) knew Will.  —Dr. Jim McLaren Director of New Products at Monsanto during Will’s tenure.

Will and I both loved to hunt. Monsanto would sponsor a dove hunting trip in Sikeston, Missouri, where each fall we would invite some key academic co-operators to hunt. Will and I would always seem to hunt close to each other. The limit on doves was 10 birds per day, and Will would always limit out with 12-15 shots, compared to my 20-25. I went on that trip for about three years while I was in St. Louis, and Will as without a doubt the best dove shot I’ve ever seen. He always shot his Browning 5 shot auto and it was death and destruction to anything in its path. He was also a great goose shot which I can attest to since we hunted one fall in southern Illinois. We were hunting out of a blind in a corn field when a big flock came in and set their wings. Geese were falling like rain when we finished.       — Dr. Ronald Brenchley, Manager for Will in Product Development at Monsanto

Dr. Carpenter has aIways been the person I’ve named as a key mentor. I took heed and watched his thought processes, actions, reactions, style, family considerations, treatment of others, involvement, work ethic and professionalism – and, even his shotgun shooting capability. I first knew Dr. Carpenter as a graduate student at Michigan State University when he visited the Weed Science Meetings, and then when I began work at Monsanto in 1974. I thought the trip from “G” building to tell Dr. Carpenter that 85% of the Roundup data base had been erased but might possibly be restored was a long trip, but, the longest walk was to Will’s office to tell him that I was leaving Monsanto. Although he wasn’t my supervisor, Will was the very first to know. Here are a few memories which come to mind when I think of him.

  • “Fourteen other major chemical companies” are the words I’ll never forget. Being an Illinois field rep, I must have looked disappointed when Dr. Carpenter offered the Product Development Manager for Roundup position to me rather than the one for Lasso. So, Will asked – “what do you think?” Trying to be cute I replied, “what are my alternatives?”  He said, “fourteen other major chemical companies.”  Then he proceeded to tell me about the effort, considerations and persuasions that went into the decision.  I’ve used that little lecture on several others over my career.
  • I, as well as others, have seen Dr. Carpenter destroy many styrofoam cups over the years, as meetings dragged on too long and he had to do something. Doodles, poking holes or scribbles with pen or pencil were the norm, but, when the meeting got really bad – the pocket knife came out to do some extra damage on the cup. –Dr. Al Kern, Former Vice President at Mycogen

What motivated me as leader of the UK chemical industry delegation to the chemical weapons disarmament talks was a passionate desire to shift government delegations’ mind-sets away from any vague perception that ‘chemicals are weapons’ towards the recognition that ‘chemicals can be used as weapons’ in the absence of safeguards to ensure that they’re not so used.

Geneva in June (which was when the annual government-industry disarmament talks were held) can be pretty hot. One day, having slipped off my shoes under the table, I walked over – barefoot – to speak to Will. He was not impressed by what he took to be an indication of my lack of respect for the seriousness of the occasion but as I returned chastened to my seat, I was relieved to see that Tessa Solesby, Chair of the discussions and, if memory serves me right the only other female present, had also slipped off her shoes! That incident paradoxically marked the beginning of my appreciation of Will as a charming, humorous, cultured human being whose company I came very much to enjoy and put an end to me seeing him simply as the somewhat formidable leader of the US chemical industry delegation.

However my most vivid recollection of the disarmament talks comes not from Geneva but from Canberra where, in September 1989, the Australian government hosted a Government-Industry Conference Against Chemical Weapons.  The time came for me to deliver a paper stating the UK chemical industry’s position and, while I was speaking, my ‘passionate desire’ overcame me and I was inspired to deviate from my prepared text and add in some point that suddenly seemed to be absolutely essential to our goal. At an international, simultaneously-translated conference any deviation from what has been submitted in advance is mightily frowned upon and indeed the organisers did express their consternation to me as soon as the opportunity presented. I was fully expecting to be told that my impromptu diversion would be inadmissible but no; instead they requested that I made myself available to have that intervention recorded so that it could be transcribed and inserted ‘verbatim’ into the final record. Even at the time I was pushed to recall what it was that I’d felt compelled to say; some twenty-five years on it has escaped me completely – although I am now tempted to entertain the thought that it might have held some significance.

That, and the memory of piling into a cab with Will and others to show our moral support for the ABC Radio interview he’d been invited to give, is about all that I am able to recall from those times. —Dr Tamar PosnerBACP & UKCP Registered Psychotherapist

 

Dr. Carpenter with Nick Reding, Dick Mahoney and George Bush Sr at Monsanto

Dr. Carpenter with Nick Reding, Dick Mahoney and George Bush Sr at Monsanto

Excerpts from just a few of the hundreds of congratulatory letters written to Dr. Carpenter on the occasion of his retirement from Monsanto in 1992…

It has been my privilege to know of you, know you, and work with you and for you during my tenure at Monsanto. Each of these phases had similarities and differences. The similarities are what first come to mind when I think of Will Carpenter–friendly, smart, action oriented, “down home style,” expert.

The differences I observed during these phases may be unique to me, but left an impression.  To know of you —In my early career as a young researcher, I heard of Will Carpenter, the “Weed Scientist” in hushed tones of expert. Weed Scientist didn’t sound very impressive to me. How could a person get a Ph.D. in Weed Science? To know you—Later in my research career I had opportunities to see Will Carpenter in action first hand. He didn’t sound very “Ivy League,” and he could kick clods with the best of them, but boy he knew his chemistry and plant science. Yes, he was an expert. To work with you—When I got into the environmental business, I got to work first hand with you in the AG Company. That was when I first experienced your leadership ability. I had to run hard just to keep the corporate group up to speed with AG. To work for you—It wasn’t until I worked for you that I realized you were always thinking three steps ahead. Nothing short of brilliant. What a great experience!—J.R Condray Director of Environmental Management under Will

Will, few men achieve true greatness in their careers. For those who do, it is manifested in their impact upon their organization, or their community and the people around them. You did so in both instances. You have had dramatic effect upon Monsanto since the 1968 reorganization, which you helped plan and which positioned Monsanto for rapid growth in the herbicide business. I think your greatest contribution has been upon your people. You established a standard for integrity, character, and performance that had an influence far beyond our department. You did it not by decree or memo, but by personal example.

After all the positive comments enumerated above, I need to reintroduce you to a bit of humility. A Monsanto Dove Hunt should do the job. Remember Stu Daniels and the wire gap? You and Stu had vied for perfect scores. We had a great hunt, and after driving out of the field, you volunteered to close the gap. It was one of those tight ones that required muscle. After struggling to pull it closed, you were on the wrong side. We waited without a word until your expression showed awareness of your action. Then Stu cut hard with a comment about a brilliant Ph.D. Chemist and Purdue and all the other embarrassments he could invoke.—Claude W. Derting, former Monsanto Development Specialist

From our first conversations while I was still a graduate student at the University of Illinois, I knew I wanted to work with you. Your belief in the important work that Monsanto was doing, your insistence on doing good science, and your commitment to agriculture in general, all made a deep impression on me, and I wanted to be a part of that commitment. But the most important quality you demonstrated over everything else was your commitment to people. I was never disappointed.

Over the years you have served as mentor, teacher, catalyst, and conscience for scores of us who have made our careers in agricultural research and development. You taught us, and reminded those of us who forgot from time to time, that doing the right thing is always good for business and good for agriculture. You made us proud to be part of Monsanto, proud to serve our industry, and proud of ourselves. I can’t think of any finer legacy to attribute to a man than that. –John M. Houghton Director, New Products Division

 During the years I have worked with you at Monsanto, I have found you to be such a strong and reliable force for reason. At a time when Monsanto has gone through many, many different changes, particularly with reference to how we treat out people, you championed equality and fairness, and there are surprisingly few who have these priorities in today’s business world. –John L. Mason Corporate Director of Personnel

You were one of the people who went out of their way to help me learn the business, especially when I moved into the Machete product manager’s job. I didn’t know a rice plant from a weed, but with your help, I learned fast. I also learned that you were a “wiz” at Gin Rummy. You taught me that on an all-day trip across the Texas and Louisiana rice fields in the back of a van. I paid dearly for that lesson. –Daniel D. Mickelson, Head of Agricultural Manufacturing

Your directness, commitment, and insight into the issues of the industry, the organization, and to me personally will remain long after your retirement. One of your (and my) favorite sayings was: “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” To those with a one dimensional view of life, this adage rings true. But for you, I’d have to make a change: “When you have so many tools to work with, there is hardly enough time in the day to drive all the nails that are protruding.” This is the way I will remember you—dedicated to company, people, and ideals, determined to drive every nail in place, and leave a legacy for the agrichemical industry that society will long respect.—James A Miles, Research Director reporting to Will

During the time I worked for you I learned a lot about decision-making and about the results that can be achieved by treating people with dignity and respect. You also taught me a lot about the Ag business. When we first met, I didn’t know Cheat from Canola. Your patience with me probably amazed both of us. Your patience with most people, and impatience with whatever stands in the way of getting the job done are wonderful characteristics. You know, when you combine those traits with your superior intellect, high energy level, sharp instincts, and good looks, you ought to do pretty well in your next career. You’re my all-time favorite living legend. –Lee Phillion, Former Human Resources Manager at Monsanto

It is truly amazing that I am able to attend your retirement party since you have pronounced me dead at least once, and almost had me arrested on numerous occasions during the time that we worked together.  A few examples should suffice:

1. Informing Northwestern University School that one their finest alumni had unfortunately passed away.

2. The libelous letter directed to the St. Louis Club regarding my fitness for membership.

I could go on, but unfortunately there isn’t enough space. The one bright spot regarding your assassination of my character is that there was only so much of Reding’s stationery you could purloin on which to have Jan forge his name.—W. Wayne Withers, Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel Emerson Electric Company 1992

As one who admires you with feelings akin to blood relationships, I congratulate you as you retire following a brilliant and highly productive career. I could write pages on this subject but will not because two words which express my estimate of your life to date come to my mind over and over: Well Done! Well Done! Well Done!—Dr. William L. Giles, President Emeritus, Mississippi State University 1992

Despite all of the changes, buyouts, mergers, and constant reorganizations among companies, there has been one stabilizing influence in this industry—Will Carpenter. There obviously have been and still are many very competent individuals in our business. However, there has not been one who combined the breadth of technical knowledge, marketing acumen, professionalism in all aspects, and just being a genuine, humble person. Many times I have described you to my graduate students as an ideal role model for them to emulate. You are to be congratulated on your longstanding highly productive career that has had a most positive influence on the industry and many people. — Dr. George Kapusta, Professor Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 1992

The Illinois Mud Turtle project was an important one for my professional development, and I value that experience as much as any particular project with which I have been associated. From it I learned the importance of designing and conducting research in such a way as to have it unassailable by critics. Because you and your employees at Monsanto conducted yourselves with such integrity, and because you insisted on no less from your contractors, the study was successful and the regulatory outcome was favorable. In this case, I think you showed how business and research should be conducted in this country. — Dr. John W. Bickham, Professor Texas A&M University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 1992

As a company, we at LGL have grown considerably since the early 1980s, and we have since conducted many large and interesting projects for an array of interesting clients. Nevertheless, our favorite project of all time remains the study of the Illinois (or should I say yellow) mud turtle. What a roller coaster ride (!) and what a satisfying experience. Your leadership of that project not only changed our perception of the scientific ethic of the Monsanto Company, but also resulted in (1) a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, (2) 8 publications in the formal republications in the formal refereed scientific literature concerning the actual versus imagined taxonomy and biology of the turtle, and (3) an article in the leading ecological journal, Ecology, which has changed the science of how to do population estimates from mark-recapture studies. Also, the taxonomic determinations we made in 1980 have withstood the test of time, despite several challenges from those who still wish the turtle to have sub-specific and thereby “endangered” status.

          The key to the success of the mud turtle experience was your recognition of what constituted science, and you’re adamant demand that the decisions regarding this issue be made in a scientific, rather than a political forum. I have saved your original telegram concerning this challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for some 12-years now as a constant reminder that I should always strive to keep biological questions in the appropriate forum and stay out of the politics.—Benny J. Gallaway, Ph.D., President Ecological Research Associates, 1992

We deeply appreciate your tireless efforts over many years to help improve the national security of the United States through a global ban on chemical weapons. You have demonstrated that government and industry can and must work together to help make our world a better and safer one. The initiative, resourcefulness, and leadership that you have shown exemplify the best of American science and industry. Your contributions reflect great credit upon yourself, on Monsanto, and on the American chemical industry. Dr. Ronald F. Lehman II, Director United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1992 (Dr.  Carpenter would continue to be a part of the efforts toward disarmament for many years)

It is difficult to send a letter applauding all of the wonderful things you have done for CMA over the years that I have been affiliated with the organization. The list is simply too long. But clearly the one shining star in your crown of victories is your work on the Chemical Weapon Treaty, which is a simply marvelous manifestation of your leadership and statesmanship.

            Some people excel by doing simple things very well and very often, but you have selected t uniquely difficult chore and made a uniquely total commitment to its achievement. The world, the nation, and this industry will all benefit from what you have done for more than ten years to secure a Chemical Weapons Treaty. –Robert A Roland, President Chemical Manufacturers Association, 1992

During my years at Monsanto, you had a tremendous impact on me, Will. I will never forget how well you treated me.—Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States, 1992

While we note your formal retirement from Monsanto, I will continue to have the benefit of your experience, expertise and friendship on the Chemical Weapons Convention. I have learned a great deal from you in the past six years, and the measure of your influence is that some of those lessons have stuck.

            Another measure of your influence in international matters is the degree to which our foreign industry colleagues have adopted some of the better known “Carpenterisms.” Just last month, I heard a representative of the French Industry tell European Commission officials that the industry “felt a little like a pig invited to a ham and eggs breakfast.” A member of the German industry told me that a certain government official was the type that “was stumped for an answer when you said hello.” Italians from Florence have referred me to “the art of the possible.” Canadians tell me about how their government is at times more like “an ant crawling up….”—I could go on. And although the statements are not often credited to you, you should take credit for helping make some fundamental changes in which the international industry conducts advocacy. And that, I believe, will be just one of the enduring marks you have made on the industry. Michael P. Walls, Senior Assistant General Counsel, Chemical Manufacturers Association, 1992

I have worked with and known many very capable and admirable men in my lifetime, each of whom had one or more special talents or a characteristic that set them above the crowd. But in you, I see embodied a combination of intellect, character, interests, and capabilities too numerous to mention. When I think seriously about Will Carpenter, I am reminded of the phrase used to describe Sir Thomas More in the movie of his life. Truly, you are a “man for all seasons.”—Pete Weitzel, 1992

Over-riding all of the good things that you have done in your life is the fact that you are a people person. I doubt that you have made very many decisions without first finding if it affects people. I have not told you this, but almost anytime you made a presentation or attended a field day where Illinois graduate students were present, they were instructed to listen and learn. Dr. Fred Slife, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992

I doubt if you will ever fully comprehend just how much you have influenced so many people in both industry and the Universities to do their best to use their talents to the best of their ability. Dr. Howard A. L. Greer, Extension Weed Control Specialist, Oklahoma State University, 1992

If a person is fortunate, one has an opportunity to be inspired and motivated by other special people during their lifetime. One of the benefits of my tenure at Mississippi State University has been the opportunity to “sit at the feet of Will Carpenter, and learn from truly one of the master leaders and inspirational people. You have honored us in so many ways as a graduate of this institution. Our feeble attempts to honor you by recognition as the Alumnus of the Year for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics is just the beginning of what we need to do to express our gratitude and appreciation. –Dr. William R. Fox, Dean, Mississippi State University, College of Agriculture and Home Economics, Office of the Dean, 1992

Weed science in particular and agriculture in general has been enriched because they attracted a dynamic young plant physiologist to their ranks. You have served Monsanto Company with distinction and dedication, and I am sure no one recognized the many and varied contributions you have made to crop production in the United States and worldwide. You have been an untiring worker for weed science and agricultural production.

On a more personal basis, I have enjoyed our few hunting trips together. You even made work out of hunting or bridge playing, as that competitive spirit was always there.  I once told you wife Hellen that “you played bridge for fun, as you gritted your teeth,” and she agreed that we were talking about the same individual.—Dr. Orvin C Burnside, Professor of Weed Science, University of Minnesota, 1992

I had the pleasure of being Will Carpenter’s major professor during his graduate work in Biology at Purdue University in the 1950s. He entered graduate school as a newly returned Army Officer from the Korean conflict and impressed us all at once by his gentlemanly qualities, his poise and disposition. He soon made his mark academically by winning a Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, and he acquitted himself with distinction throughout his graduate career. His Ph.D. thesis (1958) concerned a newly discovered enzyme, isocitritase, and Will put the properties and distinctive distribution of this enzyme on a firm foundation. In fact, the paper in Plant Physiology describing this work was so much quoted and influential that it was made a Citation Classic.

Out of about fifty graduate students whom I have supervised over forty years, many have done well in their chosen fields. But none has reached the level of responsibility and influence that Will Carpenter has. He has made contributions nationally and internationally, and I am certain that his unfailing qualities of leadership. integrity and enormous common sense have contributed to his success. Harry Beevers, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, 1992

During some difficult times for all in this business, you stood out as a voice of reason for our industry. You spoke for all of us and we owe you a big thank-you. Many of these tasks were thankless, but your dedication was a beacon that shone through some difficult nights.

As a “friendly competitor,” I learned to respect you even more when attending the last WSSA meeting. Several new Monsanto products were introduced by your bright, well-trained people. The Carpenter-Monsanto school of successful development was reflected in their professional attitudes. You are leaving a legacy at Monsanto, which you are probably too modest to admit. No more words, except that you are a great asset to our industry, a respected professional and a terrific human being. –Dr. Hans von Amsberg, Director Biological Research & Development, BASF Corporation/Agricultural Products, 1992

Back in 1975, you almost ruined the kidneys of about six of your managers. We were afraid to go to the bathroom for fear of running into Carpenter there and getting another “by the way.” In case you don’t remember, a “by the way” was a one minute discussion with Carpenter that turned into several day’s work. I still think you spent more time in the bathroom than you did in your office.

          My fond memories also include my gin rummy education. Did everyone get the opportunity to pass cards back and forth across the aisle on a small eight passenger plane? While I was just one of many included in this post doc program, I think I fared better than most. At least I never had to take out a loan to pay off gin rummy debts.—Harvey D. Tripple, Director of Development, 1992

Sixteen years ago, this company was introducing the biggest, most important product this industry has ever known, and you had an organization filled with “veteran” of 3 – 6 months experience with which to execute the technical launch. I would have thought you would have had serious concerns about sending a young new-hire (who wasn’t even trained in weed science) out to west Texas to handle this task across a three-state area. In fact, you did have concerns, and you called me in on the day I left St. Louis to admonish me that you had better not find out that I had allowed my job to cause me to neglect my family.

You probably don’t even remember doing this, but that one small event issued both a challenge and a standard that remains with me and has been passed on in the organization. There is probably nothing you could have said to me that would have given me greater confidence or motivation to go out and make things happen for Roundup.—Dr. Johnnie B. Sikes, Product Development Representative, 1992

We all recognize that sooner or later special people retire. What has made you special is your commitment to doing things right, not just scientifically, but morally as well. “Go the extra mile! Make sure you can defend your position!” For me you are first a gentleman, stern but fair, dedicated to your people, your industry and science. I will never forget the “discussion” you so eloquently provided to a group of young PD Reps in a hospitality room. There was no malice, but each one of us understood our role, and we were expected to act accordingly. Little things to some, but this is what made us “the best.” Being the best in all we do, not just image. You were/are the example for all of us to emulate. You made a difference, not only to the growth and development of MAC, but to each of us!—Russell P. Schneider, Ph.D., Product Development Representative and Director of Government Affairs for Monsanto in Washington, 1992

It seems only yesterday that I joined Monsanto and learned about the legendary Will Carpenter. I was prepared for almost any eventuality as I made the transition from Washington University to Monsanto, but I was definitely unprepared for my first meet with you. I looked forward to it, not with trepidation, but with anticipation.What a disappointment!Contrary to all the warnings, you were charming and truly a gentleman. Your southern accent captivated me.

Perhaps you realized that I was nervous at meeting the legendary Dr. Carpenter and you decided to be on your best behavior, because you exhibited none of the characteristics I had been told to expect. They were described to me by some of your best friends, and included: fidgeting; cutting up soda cans and Styrofoam cups with your famous pocket knife; or staring vacantly at the wall behind me when you started thinking ahead about your next meeting.

On the contrary, I learned very quickly that I had found a true friend, a confidant and advisor, and a warm and dedicated human being.–Virginia V Weldon, M.D. Corporate Vice President for Public Affairs, 1992

If there was ever a phrase that aptly describes Will Carpenter, it would be: He made a difference….a big difference.

            Personally, I was grateful to have been lucky enough to ask Will Carpenter to become a part of the original “Gang of Seven” in 1977 when we laid the foundation for Monsanto’s proactive approach to environmental issues. Will was consistent in many ways:

                        Will said what he thought, not what he thought I wanted to hear.

Will became an irresistible force with the slogan, “lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Will had a rare kind of institutional loyalty, group loyalty, and personal loyalty. That loyalty was typified by his sense of fairness, his sense of curiosity and his ability to combine thinking and doing.

                        Finally, will had to have grown up as a boy with the philosophy of being proactive rather than reactive, and being committed and not just interested. In large part, the success of the Corporation’s Environmental program, which was “let’s make a difference,” was due to Will Carpenter. He was and is a unique breed of an associate. –Monte Throdahl, Vice President of Research and Vice President Environmental, Will’s boss 1992

I joined Monsanto in 1978 in large part because I heard several speeches you gave. Those encounters and others gave me insight into the spirit and culture of Monsanto Product Development. In spite of other offers, there was no decision to make. I knew exactly with whom I wanted to work.

You shaped the personality of PD and set it on its course. I’m proud to have been hired into Monsanto Product Development and to have worked for you. It has truly been an honor and an extremely satisfying part of my life, on which you have had a major positive impact.  Thank you with all my heart. –Dr. Jack M. Kennedy, Director Product Development.

So often we fail to tell people how much we appreciate them, and I certainly am remiss in never having shared any thoughts with you. But I feel it is important for you to know that I have always considered you one of the most distinguished professionals in agricultural research. Your professionalism has always been above reproach. I have seen you operate in many capacities, both as a representative of Monsanto and in scientific societies, and in every instance you distinguished yourself by adhering to the principle of doing what was right. So you might not have known there were people out there who were always looking to you for the positions you took and the leadership you exhibited. You are one of the people I always held in the highest regard.—Dr. Gale A. Buchanan, Professor University of Georgia, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush.

Your contributions to the Network throughout our history are deeply appreciated. You provided much needed advice and leadership to us as we transitioned from an organization of women working on issues of importance concerning our careers to an organization dedicated to helping Monsanto become a great place to work for each employee.

We celebrated your extraordinary contributions by presenting you with The Partnership Award in 1988. You were the perfect honoree, as you volunteered special counseling as we wrote our first JRA/Goals document that year to manage the organization.

You also gave us sponsorship and support as you helped position issues with your peers in the management group and assisted in naming member of the first Network Advisory Panel that substantially contributed to moving forward the goals and ideals of The Network. Without your help The Network would not be what we are today.

Much happiness and continued success as you continue to pursue your life goals.—The Members of The Network

                 Few people have had the impact on Monsanto and its technical program that you have had over the years. Your technical competence, leadership, drive and integrity always have brought something special to every effort with which you have been associated. I know that no one had more of my respect than you.

                   You will be sorely missed! The only saving grace are the many people remaining in Monsanto who have been influenced and developed  by you, and who will be carrying on your principles.—Frank E. Reese, Senior Vice President and member of the Board of Directors

As a researcher, I was impressed not only by Will’s insight in quickly grasping scientific concepts, but by his uncanny practice of coming to a contextual understanding that considered important organizational, societal, governmental, and world issues. With his people skills he has used this ability very successfully, not only in management, but in a myriad of committees and organizations, within and outside the company, to accomplish many, many important results. I will not attempt to list them, but any of his biographies include a long detailed summary of very impressive accomplishments. – Dr. K Wayne Ratts, Director of Research, Retired, Monsanto Company

 

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