Cover photo for Scott Carpenter's Obituary
Scott Carpenter Profile Photo
1924 Scott 2013

Scott Carpenter

November 30, 1924 — October 10, 2013

The Scott Carpenter everyone knows was a 20th century icon: a fifth-generation Coloradan, Mercury 7 astronaut of "Right Stuff" fame, and a pioneering U.S. Navy Sealab aquanaut. Friends and family remember the icon, but much more. He was abidingly curious "Curiosity," he said, "is one of God's greatest gifts to man." He was modest, hopeful for the future, and a family man. Malcolm Scott Carpenter, a native of Boulder, Colorado, and citizen of the world, died Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 at the Denver Hospice following complications from a stroke. He was 88 years old. A public funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St. in Boulder, the Rev. Susan W. Springer presiding. Public visitations will also be held at the church from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1. Scott was born May 1, 1925, in Boulder to Marion Scott Carpenter (CU-Boulder B.S. '22, M.S. '23, Ph.D. '25) and Florence Noxon Carpenter (CU-Boulder B.A. '22). His mother's long confinement at Boulder's Mesa Vista Sanatorium meant Scott would be raised by his maternal grandparents, primarily by his grandfather and hero Victor Irwin Noxon (CU-Boulder, B.S. 1886), publisher of the Boulder County Miner & Farmer. Buddy, as he was known in childhood, was from his earliest days an explorer, horseman, and lover of the outdoors. He often went riding on his first horse, an Arab mare named Lady Luck, in the fields and hills surrounding the Noxon home at 7th and Aurora on Uni Hill. He learned to shoot, pitch a tent, trap, make a campfire, use a bow and arrow, and in a habit he would never relinquish always carry a pocketknife, just as Vic had taught him. He would pass this knowledge on to his children. An altar boy at St. John's, Scott was so eager to go skiing that he was known to wear ski boots under his acolyte's robe. Boulder's Flatirons, forests, friends, mentors, and teachers all gave Scott what he recalled as an idyllic childhood. He knew everyone, and they knew him back, and they hoped the best for this intrepid boy who desired to do great things. Boulder proved to be his launching pad. And Boulder will welcome him home after his long, venturesome life. Scott graduated from Boulder High School in 1943 at the height of World War II. He had already been sworn into the U.S. Navy's V-12 aviation program and trained as a naval aviation cadet until the end of the war. Returning to Boulder in the fall of 1945, he studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Colorado, where the U.S. Navy recruited him in the run-up to the Korean war. He flew Neptune P2Vs over Korea and along the Sino-Soviet coast, forward-based at Atsugi, Japan, Adak, Alaska, and Guam. He returned Stateside from his first tour of duty, having won an appointment to the Navy's Test Pilot School (1954 to 1956). He then attended Line School at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., followed by air intelligence school at the U.S. Navy Yard in 1958 for service aboard the U.S.S. Hornet. In 1959 Scott was chosen for Project Mercury, and on May 24, 1962, he became the fourth American to fly in space (and the second to orbit), following John Glenn. He circumnavigated the planet on a nearly five-hour mission, taking some of the first photographs from space and conducting a number of experiments that benefited later spaceflights. Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, wrote that Scott was the only one of the Mercury astronauts "with a touch of the poet about him in the sense that the idea of going into space stirred his imagination." He was also a consummate astronaut. He climbed into the spacecraft, wrote Jeffrey Kluger of TIME magazine following Scott's death, "and he didn't crack a sweat and he flew a deeply cool mission when it was a deeply scary thing to do." Scott next made a name for himself as an underwater explorer, in 1965 setting a record by staying 28 days at 200 feet below the surface of the ocean in the Navy's Sealab II, an experimental underwater habitat. He advocated for the exploration and conservation of the sea, founding Sea Sciences, Inc., and supporting several research facilities, among them France's SeaOrbiter Project, Aquarius, an underwater training habitat in Florida where NASA trains astronauts, and Marine Resources Development Foundation in the Florida Keys. Scott resigned from the astronaut corps in 1967. In 1969 he resigned his commission from the U.S. Navy to pursue his many passions, from hiking the Milford Track in New Zealand with his wife Patty, horse-packing around the world with the Pegasus Riders, or speaking to and inspiring young people everywhere. He was an avid member of numerous organizations, among them the Explorer's Club and the Association of Space Explorers, an international organization of astronauts and cosmonauts. With the surviving Mercury astronauts, in 1984, he established the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which each year confers 28 $10,000 scholarships to STEM students at selected universities, including CU-Boulder. Scott never lost his fascination with the sea or with space and never stopped dreaming that the United States would one day build a colony on the moon and send humans to Mars. Scott is survived by his beloved wife, Patricia Carpenter of West Palm Beach, Fla. and Vail, Colo.; daughters Kris Stoever of Denver and Candace Noxon Carpenter of Big Elk Meadows, Colo.; sons Robyn Jay Carpenter of Washington, D.C., Matthew Scott Carpenter of Venice, Calif., Nicholas André Carpenter of Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Zachary Scott Carpenter of Rocky Hill, Conn.; a granddaughter; three stepchildren; five step-grandchildren; and his cousin David Corbin (CU-Boulder '48) of Denver. He was preceded in death by sons Timothy Kit Carpenter in 1951 and Marc Scott Carpenter in 2011, his parents, and his grandparents. Memorial contributions may be made to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, astronautscholarship.org online or via mail at 6225 Vectorspace Blvd., Titusville, FL 32780.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

First Visitation

Friday, November 1, 2013

2:00 - 4:00 pm (Mountain time)

St. John's Episcopal Church

1419 Pine Street, Boulder, CO 80302

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Second Visitation

Friday, November 1, 2013

7:00 - 9:00 pm (Mountain time)

St. John's Episcopal Church

1419 Pine Street, Boulder, CO 80302

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Service Information

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

St. John's Episcopal Church

1419 Pine Street, Boulder, CO 80302

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Visits: 4

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