PLATTSBURGH - Though he said few words, Herbert O. Carpenter's reaction to being named the 2009 Irishman of the Year spoke volumes.
The 71-year-old Carpenter admitted he was surprised when bestowed the honor at the 51st annual Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce St. Patrick's Day Breakfast at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Angell College Center March 17.
"I'm, I'm just humbled," Carpenter said when was called to the podium to receive his award.
Carpenter stepped down from the stage amid a raucous round of applause shortly thereafter, with the crowd just as surprised as he that he couldn't find words in response to the honor.
"I should've said something. I should've thanked my wife or the chamber. I should've thanked somebody," Carpenter said with a laugh following the breakfast.
Several people approached Carpenter after he received his award, remarking his loss for words was out of character for him. He just smiled and in several instances responded with an, "I know, I know."
Master of ceremonies Kevin J. Killeen made the declaration, which recognizes those who continue to make contributions to the community. In Carpenter's introduction, Killeen described Carpenter as a "passionate leader" who is "totally committed to business."
Carpenter is known throughout the community in most recent years for his role as president and chief executive officer of The Northeast Group - a family-owned printing, mailing and distribution company - from which he retired in 2008. In years prior, he was a member of the Plattsburgh Police Department, later becoming police chief, a position he held until retiring in 1981.
The retired entrepreneur has also been credited for the role he played in fighting the 1993 closure of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base, where he first served when coming to the North Country more than 50 years ago.
Carpenter now joins the ranks of several dozen others who have received the designation of Irishman of the Year since 1959.