Ben Carpenter, of Fairbanks, passed away June 26, 2013, in Spokane, Wash., surrounded by his family. He survived major heart surgery last December in Spokane but suffered various other complications which led to his death.
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He was born Nov. 10, 1924, in New Augusta, Miss. During World War II, he served in Italy with the 361st Army Division as a radio man, where he earned a Bronze Star for bravery under fire. After the war, he attended electrician school. He also attended a two-year business college.
He married his "Southern Belle," Stella Lynch, in 1946, which he always said was the best decision he ever made.
Ben and Stella came to Alaska on the suggestion of an Army buddy in 1951. He found employment as an electrician at Eielson Air Force Base. He later transferred to Fort Wainwright's Bassett Army Hospital as head electrician from which he retired in 1975.
Ben was a true entrepreneur. He and Stella opened the Alaskan Cleaners at 1/4 Mile Old Richardson Highway in 1959, later adding eight apartments. They ran the cleaners for 35 years until it was sold in 1994. In 1989, Ben bought II Dice Pawn. Later, he enlarged the pawn shop and added Ben's Super Store, both located at the corner of Airport and Gillam Way in Fairbanks.
He served a term on the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board in the mid 1960's. He was a member of the Pioneers Club, a past member of the Lions Club, past president of the VFW Club and past member of the Elks Club. He founded the Fairbanks Humane Society and worked with Fairbanks Youth Football in the '70s. He was also a member and past president of the Fairbanks Horseless Carriage Club and annually led the Golden Days Parade with his vintage 1915 Model T Ford. He had a passion for old cars and animals.
In his earlier years in Alaska he enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping.
On his 85th birthday he celebrated by skydiving with Stella, kids and grandkids in California. Ben had quite a colorful history as many know. He was one of a kind and lived life exactly as he chose.
Ben is survived by his wife Stella, their two children, daughter, Omega Chandler (Kent), of Spokane, Wash., and son, Ben Carpenter Jr. (Joan), of Fullerton, Calif. He is survived by five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind a brother and two sisters.
In later years, Stella called him "The Old Goat" because he was so stubborn. We'll all miss you, you Old Goat!
Published in Daily News-Miner from July 12 to July 14, 2013