Donald Leland Carpenter
1928 - 2019
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Donald Leland Carpenter
Jan. 3, 1928 - Feb. 5, 2019
Donald Leland Carpenter, 91, passed away peacefully on February 5, 2019, in Santa Cruz, California. He was born on January 3, 1928, in Spokane, Washington, the son of Charles and Winifred Carpenter. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Barbara Lloid, his brother Charles Carpenter, and his beloved wife Betty J. Carpenter. Don is survived by his two sons, Frederic P. Carpenter and his wife Rose of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Jesse V. Carpenter and his wife Erika and granddaughter Megan of Aptos, California, and his brother Richard Carpenter of Portland, Oregon.
Don graduated from Grant High School in Portland, Oregon and served in the U.S. Navy from 1946 to 1948. He then studied international politics and language at Willamette University and in 1951 moved to New York City to pursue his Master's degree in Political Science at Columbia University. Finally discovering his true calling, Don settled in the Bay Area, attending Stanford University for his MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering. He was a research professor for 40+ years at the Radio Science Lab at Stanford University, a career he truly enjoyed.
Don's best-known achievement is the discovery in the early 1960's of the Plasmapause, which is the outermost edge of the last dense layer of the atmosphere surrounding the Earth. He was awarded the John Howard Dellinger Medal by the International Union of Radio Science and was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2002.
Don helped to form a running group at Stanford called the Angell Field Ancients where he made many life-long friends. Later in life when Don could no longer run, he and Betty spent many hours hiking trails near their home. In addition to running, Don had a passion for languages and spoke several languages fluently. Two years ago, Don moved to Aptos, California to be closer to family, including his granddaughter who brought him much joy. Memorial services will be held at a later date. Please email for more information.

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Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Feb. 17, 2019.
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10 entries
March 2, 2019
I am so sorry for the loss of your dad, father-in-law and grandfather. He loved his family deeply, and I hope it will give you comfort to know that he is reunited with your loving mom.
I feel blessed to have been his niece. One of the endearing memories I have of him is his quick dry wit delivered with a little smile.
He was a good man and will be deeply missed.
Patty Bickley
Tacoma, Washington
February 22, 2019
Fred and Jesse, Our heart breaks for you on the loss of your Dad. Erika and Rose the loss of your father-in-law. Beautiful Megan the loss of your grandpa. May the wonderful cherished memories you have carry you through this difficult time. Sending you hugs and prayers from Raegan, Dawn and Natali.
Dawn Carpenter
February 19, 2019
Dad's 80th Birthday Party
Frederic Carpenter
February 19, 2019
Family in 1994
Frederic Carpenter
February 19, 2019
Frederic Carpenter
February 19, 2019
Frederic Carpenter
February 18, 2019
I am sorry for your loss. My condolences to family and friends. May the God of comfort give you strength during this difficult time. Psalm 68:20
February 18, 2019
My heart breaks for you, Jesse and Fred on the loss of your dad. My heart goes out to you Erika and Rose on the loss of your father-in-law. And Megan just know how very much your grandfather loved you. To the Carpenters: thank you for sharing this incredible man with me.I'll miss you Uncle Don.
Kathy Davis
February 17, 2019
I'm sorry that I didn't get to know Don better because I moved away from the Bay Area to the North State, however, I know from what my niece Erika said that he was a truly lovely man. I'm so glad he was able to spend quality time with his terrific son Jesse and Erika and got to know their darling little girl Megan. Life is measured by treasured moments and I'm sure he had a lot of those.
February 17, 2019
Jesse and Fred-Your Dad was a thoughtful man who the few times we would get together with was kind and expressed an interest in you and what was going on in your life. Don has a fascinating career in something I rarely understood. He was fortunate to live in the shadow of his beloved Stanford University. May he rest easy after a long fulfilling life. Love to you from Lance and Mary Jo.
Lance and Mary Jo Cowles
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