Cardiff icon passes away at 99

Cardiff icon passes away at 99
Orville Carpentier and his wife, Jessica. Courtesy photo

CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — Longtime Cardiff resident Jessica A. Carpentier passed away on Aug. 31. She was 99. Orville G. Carpentier, her husband of 48 years, preceded her in death in 1994. 

The Carpentiers moved to Cardiff in 1949 and became active members of the community, living above a barbershop Orville owned and operated on San Elijo Avenue near Chesterfield Drive. In 1963 Orville became one of the founders of the Businessman’s Association of Cardiff, and later the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce where he served as president for two terms.

Also in 1963, the Businessman’s Association established a Beautification Committee and leased the railroad right-of-way that brought traffic from Coast Highway across the railroad tracks into downtown Cardiff. After the lease was signed, Orville and Jessica Carpentier took the initiative in manicuring the property.

Irene Kratzer wrote about this in an article, “History of beautifying Cardiff” in The Coast News on Nov. 5, 2010. Some of the information for the story came from scrapbooks belonging to Jessica Carpentier:

“The Beautification Committee launched Project Pride, chamber members raised funds, planted palm trees, acquired planters and black-topped the business parking lot and in 1966 the chamber erected a sign on the southwest corner of Chesterfield and San Elijo Avenue depicting the gateway to Cardiff-by-the-Sea.”

For their good deeds, the Carpentiers were featured in an article dated March 27, 1983, in the Los Angeles Times, “Cardiff: Intimate Portrait of a Special Kind of Small Town by the Sea:”

“And like a small town, people take matters into their own hands. Take, for instance, Jessica and Orville Carpentier, who own property downtown and have lived here since 1949. And they have made it their personal project to help maintain the landscaping along the railroad tracks.

“We want it to look good,” Mrs. Carpentier said. “The right-of-way is leased to the Chamber of Commerce so we can beautify it. The railroad will mow it once a year, but that’s not good enough for us. That’s the town’s front yard.”

After Orville Carpentier’s death, the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce passed resolution 94-06 renaming the area, previously called the Project Pride Park Way, to Carpentier Park Way.

Kratzer recalled becoming acquainted with the Carpentiers when she moved to Cardiff in 1982.

“There was a story that they would pull a wagon, filled with water from their home across the street to the park,” she said.

“Jessica had a trailer parked behind Best-A-Wan Pizza where she would feed stray cats. She was a very friendly, delightful person and I enjoyed talking to her at chamber meetings and later at the grocery store or when I delivered Avon products to her.”

Added, Jay Williams: “I remember how kind Jessica was to my son when he delivered the newspaper. She would always give him cookies.”

According to friend Sharon Mansfield, Jessica Carpentier was born on July 9, 1913, in Sacramento, the daughter of Clinton and Ella Munson who were also Cardiff residents.

In an obituary, Mansfield wrote, “Jessica was a licensed cosmetologist. She enjoyed gardening and reading health information. She was a strong, intelligent and independent woman with a great sense of humor.

She lived on the second story, went up and down the stairs every day, and managed her business and residential properties until a stroke in 2011.”

Jessica Carpentier is survived by her daughter, Lenna, and three grandchildren. A memorial service was held Sept. 7, followed by burial on Sept. 10 at Eternal Hills Cemetery, Oceanside.

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  1. Teresa Barth says:

    I true Cardiffian! She loved her community and we are a better place because of her and Orville.

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