When Blair County Judge Hiram Carpenter - a West Virginia native - considered the date for his retirement party, he picked a bye week for West Virginia University's football team.
He learned it also happened to be Penn State's big date with Ohio State, but he figured that by this time, the Nittany Lions would be 1-6, he said.
He also maybe figured to impose a retirement sentence on friends and colleagues.
Mirror photo by William Kibler
Family, friends and colleagues attend a retirement party for 23-year Blair County Judge Hiram Carpenter on Saturday at The Casino at Lakemont Park.
But even if that's the case, it helped prove a point made by multiple speakers Saturday - that people like Carpenter a lot.
In spite of a start time just half an hour before one of the biggest Penn State games in years, The Casino at Lakemont Park was full.
By the nature of their positions, judges command respect.
And that's essential, according to D. Brooks Smith, an early colleague of Carpenter, now judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and a speaker at the party.
But the affection people hold you in is ultimately the best reward, Brooks said, citing Mark Twain.
Carpenter earned that by a talent for making others feel special, said JoEllen Steinbrunner, former administrator of the county's drug and alcohol program.
She recalled him visiting in her office one day, before people generally realized how critical it is for the community to help addicted people, she said.
He told her she probably had the most important job in the county.
"Made me feel so good," Steinbrunner said.
When people routinely address you as "your honor," it can go to your head.
He maintained the dignity of the court, but always had a smile, said Allen Hancock, CEO of The Hancock Group, who advised him on his first run for judge.
Hancock didn't hesitate to bring up one of Carpenter's foibles, exhibited long ago.
Even after Hancock and others had told him about the need for pithy answers to media questions, Carpenter went on and on in his habitual methodical tone in a campaign training session his friends organized.
For so long that Hancock dropped his head in despair.
Finally, brought up short, Carpenter said, "Oh, that's what you meant."
Carpenter will become a senior judge at the end of the year.
He has served 23 years.
It almost didn't happen.
Just out of law school, he came to Altoona for a job interview and was seriously "underwhelmed" driving down Sixth Avenue.
He stopped at a gas station and was going to call at the phone booth there to cancel the interview.
But he needed change for a dime.
And in the time that it took for the attendant to make that change, he had a change of heart that was the cause of lots of changes for lots of people.
It was "common courtesy" to go through with the interview, he thought.
So he went to the interview and bonded with Leo Mullen, the interviewer, over their common home area in West Virginia.
"Leo knew my grandfather," Carpenter said. "We had a family reunion."
And he had his first job in the law, thanks to his listening to his conscience.
"He was always willing to listen," Hancock said.
One of the measures of a man is how he handles his power, and one of the ways Carpenter handled it was to treat others - both weak and powerful - alike, according to Jolene Kopriva, Blair County president judge.
"Honorable was not just a title, but a complete characterization," Hancock said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.