Ken Carpenter, VFW honor guard, past commander

Ken Carpenter
Ken Carpenter

Ken Carpenter of North St. Paul passed away March 6 at age 87.

Carpenter grew up on the East Side and served in the Navy during World War II.

On returning, he started a lifelong career with Northern Pacific, later Burlington Northern. Retiring in 1983, he had more time to pursue fishing and hunting, daughter Pat Erickson recalls, and to pour even more of his energy into the VFW.

Carpenter was a lifetime member of North St. Paul VFW Post 1350, a past commander and longtime member of the honor guard. He was also a member of the American Legion.

Bill Jessen, a Vietnam veteran, got to know Carpenter through the VFW post and its activities. The two forged a close relationship despite their 20-plus year difference in ages and different war experiences.

“He was kind of my mentor,” Jessen says.

As Carpenter entered his mid-80s, Jessen says, he was just as committed to the honor guard and VFW activities as ever.

“He was a very determined human being. At his age, sometimes I’d think something might be difficult for him to do, and I wouldn’t call him for it.

“He’d get mad at me for not calling him, so I got into the habit of making sure he knew all the events I knew about. And he made it to most of them.”

Carpenter was preceded in death by wife Verna; parents and brother Michael. He is survived by daughter Patricia Erickson and her husband Darryl; grandchildren Michelle and Melissa Erickson; sister Phyllis Kenaley and husband Jim W.; brother Ron and his wife Gloria; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Bill and Betty Booher; also nieces, nephews and friends.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 14 at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2475 E. 17th Ave., North St. Paul. Visitation is Friday from 4-8 p.m. at Sandberg Funeral Home, 2593 E. Seventh Ave., North St. Paul, one hour prior to the church service.

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