December 30, 1952 - September 22, 2013 OKLAHOMA CITY Michael Paden Carpenter -- artist, broadcast journalist, writer, philosopher and beloved curmudgeon -- died on September 22 in Edmond, OK after a two-year struggle with cancer. He was 60. The Sage of the morning coffee crowd at The Red Cup (he designed the establishment's iconic logo) left this existence amidst an outpouring of love and admiration from his many friends he called "the most remarkable thing" about the last two years of his life. Michael was born December 30, 1952, in Oklahoma City. By his own frank account, his childhood years were not easy, growing up in a home scarred by alcoholism and domestic strife. He graduated from Fair Park High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1970. By the time he was a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, his immense talents, scalpel-sharp wit, and wry view of the world were already gaining him a growing circle of friends and admirers, who appreciated his insight, humor and brutal honesty. "Carp" -- as his friends affectionately called him --would go on to work in radio and then television as a reporter and anchor. ("I'm not really a journalist," he wrote, "but I played one on TV.") In truth, he was an award-winning journalist, whose reporting and writing styles were the envy of his peers. He covered the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995 and was the first journalist to correctly predict the link between that tragedy and events in Waco, Texas, in 1993. He worked at Oklahoma City radio station KOMA-AM and at KOCO-TV and KWTV. His career included Tulsa's KOTV and news organizations in San Jose, California, and San Antonio, Texas. Prior to his retirement, Michael also worked for the City of Oklahoma City, producing video and web content. As Michael lived with the knowledge that his remaining time was short, he told friends that his circumstances had made him reexamine his relationship with the world -- and people -- surrounding him. "I've developed a new awareness and appreciation of all sorts of little things that I had previously only scarcely noticed," he wrote. "When I scratch the cat's ears, I notice how his fur feels between my fingertips. When I'm outdoors, colors seem more vivid and saturated. When it's not cloudy, the sun seems brighter. When someone says to me, `good morning,' it seems more sincere. I had read that these things sometimes happen, but I thought the authors were speaking figuratively. They weren't." He would tell his friends that in spite of his cancer and prognosis, the last two years were the best in his life. Michael is survived by his love, Rebekah Ray; his former wife, Gwen Carpenter; the many devoted friends who rallied around him and cared for him; his stepmother, Sylvia Carpenter, of Arkansas; and an aunt, Ava Paden, of Virginia; as well as many cousins. Mike will be remembered by his friends at a memorial at The Red Cup on September 29 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Published in The Oklahoman on Sept. 24, 2013