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 memorialDLC2019@gmail.com for more information. View the online memorial for Donald Leland Carpenter