By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
RH Mayor makes his biggest executive decision
We share the good news of Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter’s engagement.
Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter and his partner Jennifer Kea
Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter and his partner Jennifer Kea. Photo provided.

I start this article with a quote from the one I wrote for the May 20, 2021 paper. “Syndicated columnist articles, opinion pieces, letters to the editor too often bring negative to our attention instead of positives and accomplishments.”

So instead, I wanted to introduce you to positive ideas and positive people through their stories, which are stories that expand our knowledge about individuals with no hidden agendas, just the desire to serve. In fact, that’s how “Let me Introduce You” was born.

This article is different. Today I’m writing about a public figure whom many of you know as the Mayor of Richmond Hill, Russ Carpenter. You know of the man who loves politics, Richmond Hill and the ability to touch us all with wonderful ideas and decisions that help make our city special. But today, I write of the other Russ, a private man at a private moment that I’m delighted to share with you.

It’s difficult to write this article because Russ is my close friend whose family is dear to me as well as a man I work with as chairman of the Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority.

I asked him if I could write this special story about “the other Russ”. His personal world is a very private one consisting of only a small number of people. This is a man known as a politician, the mayor, an incredible teacher, but not for that personal part which few of us see. So, this article is an introduction to “that Russ” and the next step in his life that I tell you about as the woman he describes as a friend, the one that always offers him advice, one like a mother figure, aunt, boss…a rather unique relationship, a special one that we have created.

In 1956, at the Ford Plantation–now called the Ford Field and River Club– yacht basin, Russ’s father, Bobby, proposed to his mother, Flora Jean. Russ decided this was the perfect place to propose to Jennifer Kea, (“a good place to begin their marriage,”) continuing the family tradition as he moves on in his life journey. A fitting gift to his mom and memory of his dad, a love relationship that lasted 64 years.

John Crowley, his lifelong friend said to me, “When you’re friends with someone for over 50 years, you really get to see the good and the bad. With Rusty, there’s been a whole lot of good. From first grade class to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, to helping him design one of his first campaign posters, the experience has never been boring. Getting to know Jenny has been great too, and it’s awesome to see how they fit together so well.”

Fit together they do; with Russ a government teacher, and Jennifer a history teacher.

Russ’ picture on his Facebook page, that of Ronald Regan, says much. It has deep meaning to him. He says Reagan epitomizes America to him. He stood for the ‘Red, White and Blue’, dear to Russ both philosophically and as a government teacher.

As Kristi Cox, Mayor Pro Tem said, “I’m happy for Russ and Jenny as they become one in marriage. Jenny is sharing and giving, She has a sweet spirit and kind heart, soft spoken with a calm demeanor. She is a uniquely exceptional woman. Becoming Russ’ wife, she will be the epitome of a Proverbs: 31 woman and will enhance the service that Russ will continue to provide to our youth and community.”

Police Chief Mitch Shores told me they are two wonderful people who realized that finding the right person was worth the wait. “They are both strong Christian people who will seek the Lord together,” Shores said.

Liz Grizzard has known Russ since kindergarten, pals forever. Along with Melissa DeLoch, who joined them when she came to Richmond Hill in third grade, who “couldn’t go through school without him”, they were, according to Liz, “The Three Musketeers”.

Melissa laughed as she told me, “I led the charge as “Susie Homemaker” keeping him organized in school. We joked it took a village to raise him and we were that village. The three of us are soulmates as well as friends.”

Each person I spoke with called this couple godly, with them sharing the same views and having a lot in common: music, TV, mutual friends, and a strong partnership. I was told this by those I spoke with in many ways. They take their relationship with God, with their religion very seriously. Jenny believed that when God would bring the right man into her life she would know. “I am blessed beyond measure and cannot wait to start a new journey with this wonderful man”.

Russ said their strong faith was a big attraction. He described her as funny, loyal, nurturing, positive, and dynamic. With a smile and laugh he said Jenny bought him a red Yeti cooler for Christmas. If she went so out of her way to find one in red, impossibly hard to find, she sealed the deal! Jokingly he said, “like Sarah and Abraham we’re getting married at an advanced age!”. I replied, It’s never too late to live happily ever after… As I finish this article, I invite you all to think of Russ and Jenny with congratulations and blessings on June 1st as they say their wedding vows and go home together.

May the Lord bless them tremendously on their journey as husband and wife.

Georgene Brazer is chairwoman of the Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority. She writes a column about people in Bryan County and beyond who inspire her. You can reach Georgene at

Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter and his partner Jennifer Kea.
Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter and his partner Jennifer Kea. Photo provided.
Sign up for our E-Newsletters