Local attorney Ron Carpenter dies from cancer

The 62-year-old resident dedicated 40 years of his life to the legal profession.


Published: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 12:42 a.m.

As an attorney for developers, Ron Carpenter found himself in the middle of some of Gainesville and Alachua County's largest and most controversial projects.

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Ron Carpenter

As a Democratic activist, he is remembered for advocating the area's interests with state and national leaders.

Carpenter died at 62 Thursday after a months-long battle with cancer.

He spent much of his 40-year legal career wrangling with elected and appointed officials over the details of his clients' projects and arguing for the development rights of rural land owners and developers.

He often found himself in the news representing projects that included the recently approved 160-acre expansion of Butler Plaza, efforts to build new Wal-Mart Supercenters in Gainesville and Alachua, the Hatchet Creek development near the airport, and representing business owners concerned about the homeless center planned for their neighborhood.

In the early 2000s, he represented two large housing developments ultimately turned down by officials - the more than 900-acre Greenways of Gainesville and the 1,700-acre Alachua West near the city of Alachua. He also represented the landowners when some of the Alachua West property was approved for Dollar General and Wal-Mart distribution centers.

Quenta Vettel worked with Carpenter on the Dollar General and Wal-Mart projects and said his work helped bring a lot of jobs to Alachua and east Gainesville, as well as much-needed retail to east Gainesville.

She said he also touched thousands of lives as a real estate attorney helping people buy homes.

"He was a special person, a dear, dear friend," Vettel said.

Land-use attorney David Coffey said Carpenter was a mature and professional voice for developers in working with public officials, ensuring a dialogue that led to better results.

"The quality of service he provided is really going to be missed," he said.

Coffey said Carpenter's influence with elected Democrats will be missed by the community more.

Carpenter counted among his friends prominent Democrats such as Buddy McKay, Lawton Chiles, Rod Smith and Sen. Bill Nelson.

Carpenter served on the board of trustees for Santa Fe College in the 1990s and on the board of M&S Bank since 1984.

He is survived by his wife, Deanna, three daughters, a son and five grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held next week.

"He was an amazing father and a very active grandfather and a very romantic husband," said daughter Cris Plumlee.

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