Life Story Visitation
Thursday, December 2, 2021
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food, Drinks and stories will be shared.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Trinity Lutheran School
721 Pine Street
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Chuck Carpenter would agree that he was a kind, gracious, and selfless man. He was passionate about music and had a zest for life. Deeply devoted to his family, Chuck treasured his roles as a Husband, Father and Grandfather. Through his teaching, church involvement and community volunteerism, he touched the lives of so many people that his love, compassion and generosity will be remembered for years to come.
During the first half of the 1940s the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. There was dancing in the streets in 1945 when America and our allies were victorious in the fight for the freedoms that we still enjoy today. Shortly after the end of the war when the baby boom was underway, Dr. Richard and Sara Jane (Bloomer) Carpenter were awaiting an addition to their own family. They announced the birth of the baby boy they named Charles on November 6, 1946, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the older of two boys, as his younger brother, John, joined the family just 13 months later. Chuck’s mother was a Nurse’s Aide and Church Organist, and his father was a Doctor of Osteopathy. His Father left the family when Chuck was just a young boy and his Mother raised him as a single parent. The lessons that he learned from his Mother would be the cornerstone of his life.
Raised in Ionia, Chuck was a young boy of his generation in many ways. He treasured the companionship of his dog, Toby and played football and baseball. Father Beirlein at the Episcopal Church became a guiding force and father figure to Chuck. Chuck became the Father’s first acolyte, and they formed a bond that lasted most of his life. As a student, Chuck attended Ionia Schools where he was a four-year varsity letter athlete in both football and baseball. He was also active in school musicals and played saxophone in the band. In addition, Chuck was the sophomore class president.
Not to be forgotten during his years in school was Chuck’s introduction to the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Janice Ries, and they met while in middle school. They became friends, and in time began dating. After graduating from high school in 1964, Chuck attended Grand Rapids Community College and later Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan. There, he majored in music. During this time, he and Jan continued dating, while she was concurrently attending the Bronson School of Nursing. They called each other, visited occasionally and continued their long-distance romance. It has been said that since Chuck was a good-looking guy, he was never too far out of Jan’s mind. Eventually Chuck and Jan married on September 9, 1967, at St. John Episcopal Church in Ionia – presided over by Fr. Berlein. Together they welcomed two daughters of their own, Cynthia in 1969 and Connee in 1972.
There was nothing that was of greater importance to Chuck on this side of heaven than his family. He was a fun-loving father, but his girls also knew exactly when they crossed the line as he would give them “the look.” Some of their favorite memories were made around the pool Chuck installed. They also spent summers at a cottage at Houghton Lake with extended family and later would camp during the summer months. For more than 40 years the family camped and then purchased a spot in Saugatuck, where he and Jan spent many of their summer months.
Throughout his life, music was never far from Chuck’s mind. Music was not only his passion but was also his livelihood. He started off as the band director of Montague Schools and was proud of his marching band and the many shows he put together there. During the summer months Chuck worked on his master’s degree at Western Michigan, earning that degree and eventually a specialist’s degree. While in Montague he rose to the position of Assistant Principal and also Athletic Director.
At the same time, Chuck was active at St. Peters By-the-Lake Episcopal Church where he was a member of the choir, served as music director, and was also a lay reader and Senior Warden. In 1983 the family moved to the Kalamazoo area where Chuck became Assistant Superintendent of Parchment Schools. He always enjoyed the administrative side of education as well as negotiations with the various unions. As a member of the Kalamazoo Area Labor Management Committee (KALM) Chuck put his negotiation skills to good use, teaching kids throughout the county the art of negotiation through a hands-on pilot program.
Chuck retired from Parchment Schools in 2001, but later found a home at Trinity Lutheran School in Paw Paw, where he taught band. He was affectionately known as “Mr. C” and was known for the mints that he always had in his pocket. Mr. C tried to make each student feel special and was always willing to listen and help whenever he could. The students all loved him and he, in turn, loved them as well.
There were many things that kept Chuck busy over the years and he was active in the community in a variety of ways. This included being a member of Rotary International, working on the committee for the Kindelberger Festival, and helping to build the gazebo at Kindelberger Park in Parchment.
In addition to enjoying the music of the Lettermen, and Simon and Garfunkel, Chuck also loved going to musicals. His favorites were Les Misérables and Hamilton. He also liked watching Drum and Bugle Corps competitions.
Chuck was both very well read and a math whiz, but it has been said that he was a bit lacking when it came to fashion sense. He was often seen in shorts, even if it meant that he was outside in a winter coat, boots, and shorts. His outfit combinations were a continued source of amusement to his family. However, if things got too bad, Chuck’s secretary had been instructed to send him home to change. The one time he showed up to teach in a perfectly color-coordinated outfit, his Montague band students gave him a standing ovation.
Chuck didn’t shy away from tackling home improvement projects, despite a few mishaps. Over the years he was electrocuted, cut, bones cracked, and fingers smashed, but thankfully, he was never seriously injured. Of course, when grandchildren arrived, spending time with them became a favorite pastime, and he loved to spoil them whenever possible. He taught them how to play chess, shared computer quest games with them, and attended their many events.
Generous, supportive, funny, and kindhearted are just a few of the words that describe Chuck Carpenter. He valued education, which he passed onto his kids, and he inspired all of his students to do their very best. With faith as a cornerstone, Chuck saw a definite line between right and wrong and was guided by his strong moral compass. Someone who could always see the positive side of any situation, Chuck had a zest for life that was contagious to all who were nearby. Even when his kidneys failed, and his ability to walk deteriorated, he never complained or lost his ability to see the funny in every situation. He was deeply loved, and he will be forever missed.
Charles Norton Carpenter died at his home on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Members of his family include his wife Jan; 2 Children: Cynthia (Paul) Garrod and Connee (John) Cross; 2 grandchildren: Brandon and Sara Olivia Garrod; brother John (Karen) Carpenter and several nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where refreshments and stories will be shared on Thursday (Dec 2) from 5 - 7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Funeral Services will be held at 1 pm on Friday (Dec 3) at Trinity Lutheran Church, 721 Pine Street, Paw Paw. Visit Chuck’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, share photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Trinity Lutheran School – Paw Paw.