Kenneth V. Carpenter, MD, 74, passed away March 7, 2022, at his home.
Ken was born March 22, 1947, to Kenneth and Jean Carpenter in Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1947. The family soon moved to Great Bend, Kansas, and then to Idaho Falls, Idaho. Ken attended high school at St. Lawrence Seminary in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin. He attended Carroll College and then Creighton University School of Medicine. He completed a surgical internship and orthopedic surgery residency at the Phoenix Orthopedic Residency Program in Phoenix.
He married Linda Thomas. They had two sons, Jason and Joshua. They later divorced. After Helena residency they returned to where he joined Dr. Harris Hanson at the Helena Orthopedic Clinic. Dr. Carpenter served the greater Helena community for 28 years. He was a dedicated and caring surgeon who always enjoyed a good laugh with his OR crew, colleagues and office staff. After retiring from private practice he went to work at VA Montana, retiring in 2017. He took great pride in caring for Montana veterans and forming some of his greatest friendships with his orthopedic colleagues and nurses.
He had the privilege of serving on the board of directors of Valley Bank of Helena for 15 years. It was one of the great experiences of his life. Earlier he had served on the board of directors of St. Peter’s Hospital, becoming the first physician to be chosen owner. He worked as a medical advisor/peer review physician for Montana State Fund, where he made many good friends. He also worked in the same capacity for Montana School Groups Interlocal Authority and the Montana Mutual Interlocal Authority.
He partnered with Theresa Vonada and embarked on a 17-year adventure. Riley Sheldon and Kailey Sheldon were added to the family. The ensuing years were filled with satisfying work and a lot of play. There was biking, hiking, floating, fishing, golfing, traveling and trips to his brother Mike’s cabin on the Madison River. There was the yearly pilgrimage to see son Jason in Eugene, Oregon, and root for the Ducks. Ken and Theresa loved college football season. They planned their fall schedules around all their favorite teams. They moved to Columbia Falls and made more lasting friendships. They enjoyed the adventures of Northwest Montana, particularly exploring Glacier Park. They loved floating the forks of the Flathead River. Ken took great pride in refining Theresa’s fly fishing skills. He always took the oars and put her on the fish. In deciding on the best trip they ever took, Ken chose the five day float/fish trip in the Great Bear Wilderness on the Middle Fork of the Flathead with Ol’ Lary and crew. They liked it so much they did it twice. His great joy was downhill skiing with Josh, Amber and his grandchildren every weekend at Big Mountain. He also looked forward to attending his grandkids sporting events and dance performances.
A year ago his diagnosis required he and Theresa to relocate to Salt Lake City. They were so very grateful for the doctors, medical team and researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute. They had amazing support from their friends Carmen and Gunnar; Pete and Jenni; and “Team Carpenter.” His brother Mike was able to spend a couple weeks as his caregiver in SLC. He and Kailey formed their own special bond as she supported him in multiple ways throughout his cancer journey. Ken chose to spend the last several weeks of his life back in his beloved Montana surrounded by friends and family. He particularly enjoyed reading the cards from former co-workers at St. Peter’s Hospital, VA Montana and the Helena Orthopedic Clinic.
Ken is survived by his wife, Theresa; sons, Jason, Josh (Amber, Owen, Marlo and Lola), and Riley; and daughter, Kailey. He is also survived by his siblings, Jane Ruggiero, Mary Buttolph (Tom), Mike (Kimberly), Amy Geary (Dave), and Pat; Ray Van Dyke; Ray Vonada; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Phyllis Van Dyke, and mother-in-law Ella Vonada.
Per his request there will be no funeral service. The family is planning a celebration of life in Helena this summer.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials in his honor to Kenneth V. Carpenter Scholarship Fund, Carroll College, 1601 N. Benton Avenue, Helena, MT 59625; Huntsman Cancer Institute, https://give.huntsmancancer.org/page/30815/donate/1; or Be the Match, https://www.bethematchfoundation.org
Columbia Mortuary in Columbia Falls is caring for the family.