On January 29, Art Carpenter, a resident of Bayview in Seattle, gently passed through the eternal gates. He formerly lived in much-loved Port Townsend, WA. Art’s life guides were spiritual intention, gratitude and the Holy in his everyday experiences and interactions.
Art often said, “My life has been such a joy and blessing. I want my friends, family, co-workers, spiritual seekers … everyone … to know how much you meant to me. I am so grateful that YOU were part of my life! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Art’s trademarks were his ready smile, sense of peace, playful stories with corny jokes, and happy impromptu singing when he would suddenly burst into song. His genuine good nature and open heart won Art friends wherever he was. And you could be sure Art was never far from his favorite Greek Fisherman’s cap.
Art was born December 23, 1937 in tiny Point Pleasant, WV. Art was the son of William “Mike” Carpenter and Maud Wilson Carpenter, and the eldest of five children, having three brothers and one sister. Art spent most of his childhood in even tinier Pennsboro, WV. He would recall walking two miles to school and doing daily chores on the family farm, especially caring for the sheep. Art was a contractual shearer of sheep for farms in Maryland and Virginia well into his adult years.
Art received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Maryland. After serving in the Armed Forces, he moved to Washington, D.C. His analytical and technical strengths led Art to be a Senior Programmer and Analyst for banks and large companies including FNMA, PENNAMCO, AMTRAK and GTE Telenet. Art took a career sabbatical to live with a host family in Cuernavaca, Mexico, to sharpen his Spanish-speaking skills.
Leaving his sheep-shearing equipment behind, Art headed west, first to Colorado Springs, CO, then to Sacramento, CA, and finally settled in San Francisco. He became a software and quality assurance tester in the telecommunications industry with SBS, MCI, WorldCom and Verizon. Art survived many a downsizing.
In San Francisco, Art gave his heart and hand in marriage to Rev. Barb Laski, who shared his beliefs in how Spirit works within the Mystery of our lives. Barb proposed to Art while she was recovering from a life-threatening illness in a rehab facility. A flabbergasted yet delighted Art said, “Yes!” They later learned that the proposal had fallen on Sadie Hawkins Day.
In 2004, Art and Barb retired to scenic Port Townsend, WA, a historic Victorian seaport community. The beauty of living on a bluff with expansive views of water and two mountain ranges fulfilled their dreams and enlivened their souls. They happily communed with the sea, nature and their three little dogs -- Mitzi, Phoebe and Phoenix.
They were also surrounded by cherished friends. Art’s exercise class and men’s breakfast group were joyful gatherings for many years. He was a regular at Better Living through Coffee, a member of the Community Chorus and an actor in Shakespeare in the Park.
Art helped many people. He worked five years for ECHHO managing used medical equipment for the community. His dual disciplines were transforming organic, locally grown foods into tasty, healthy meals, and engaging in his exercise classes to optimize wellness and create endearing social bonds.
Art was most passionate about and devoted to his spiritual life. In D.C., he was active with Potter’s House, a coffee house mission of Seekers Church and Church of the Saviour. Membership required firm, accountable commitments to study and pray, and to give and serve at a particular point of need. This solid foundation and the relationships he formed lasted a lifetime.
As a life-long learner, he expanded his spiritual insight and understanding with Jean Houston’s Mystery School and Brugh Joy’s Heart-Centered Transformation Program. Art also graduated from Paul Rebillot’s School of Gestalt. At age 58, he became a credentialed Hellerworker in a relatively new field of the healing bodywork of structural integration movement, and body awareness.
Centering prayer blossomed into a keystone daily practice, focused on the spirituality espoused by Father Thomas Keating and St. Benedict’s Monastery in Colorado. Art went on spiritual retreats to Iona, Scotland and Ghost Ranch, New Mexico under the direction of peacemaker Rev. J. Philip Newell. Most recently, Art was a member of Plymouth United Church of Christ in Seattle. Previously, he was with the Port Townsend Friends fellowship, which he admired for its social justice initiatives and lengthy silences during meetings.
A deeply moving and elevated experience in Art’s spiritual life was his 500-mile trek over the Pyrenees and across Northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. He was 71 years young. This undertaking was life changing and made him realize that life is, indeed, a journey.
Art is survived by his beloved spouse, Barb Laski, with whom he shared many adventures. He also leaves his dear brothers Michael and Kermit, and sister Anita and her husband, John. His parents and brother Earl preceded him in death. Art was especially grateful to: his phenomenal doctors at Virginia Mason Hospital – Drs. Irani, Wang and Soung; resources at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; and special caregiver Patrice Barry.
Art’s memorial service will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at Port Townsend Friends Meetinghouse, located at 1841 Sheridan Street. Rev. Simon de Voil will officiate. All are welcome. Art’s ashes will be scattered at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO at a later date.