Beauty queen. Feminist. Civil rights protester. Teacher. Communicator. Singer. Musician. Affordable housing champion. Park enthusiast. Gun-control advocate. Non-profit leader. Strategist. Convener. Charmer. Politician. Award winner. Avid reader. Author. Poet. Painter. Art aficionado. “Big Love Club” founder. Twice cancer survivor. Christian. Mystic. Believer.
Jean Carpenter had many roles in life, always bringing joy, laughter, humor, perseverance, and her complete commitment to make life better for those in need. Beloved mother and wife, she died peacefully on October 26, 2022 at her home on Vashon where she was receiving hospice care. Jean spent her last weeks with her children tending to her.
Born in Hattiesburg, MS, Jean grew up as a Southern belle on the wrong side of the tracks. She shined with quick wit and intelligence, striking beauty, and a singing voice to match the power of her personality. She met the love of her life Scott Carpenter (1946-2021) in Austin, Texas while working at the LBJ Library on the University of Texas campus. A wild duck showed up to witness their wedding in a park gazebo.
Winning beauty pageants helped fund Jean’s undergraduate studies at the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a B.S. in speech and a master’s in communication. While there she was a Tri Delta sorority sister and once performed with Basil Rathbone. (“He wasn’t a good singer,” she said.) Later in life, Jean earned a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Seattle University.
A fierce light for love and justice, Jean led many non-profits, including serving as executive director for the Washington State PTA, director at Seattle Human Services Coalition, and communications director for Food Lifeline. In 1988, Jean was elected to the Bellevue, WA City Council, where she campaigned for low-income housing . Afterwards, she was appointed Affordable Housing and Human Services Liaison as well as Intergovernmental Relations Director by King County (WA) Executive Ron Sims. Accolades included being named Soroptimist Woman of Distinction in Community Service (1991) and Best Diversity Advocate-Bellevue (2002).
Jean had a powerful charisma and joie de vivre leading many to consider her a close friend at their first meeting. She believed it was important to “really live until we die” and considered her children to be her “best things” she ever did. Jean is survived by her daughter Bonnie Bizzell and son-in-law Jim Sibley; her son, the Rev. Les Carpenter; brother and sister-in-law Butch and Gail Brown; grandchildren James and Sam Carpenter; beagle Tigger (who has a loving new home); and granddog Finn. Jean is deeply missed and will always be remembered through the lives of those she touched. In lieu of flowers, please tell and show someone you love them.
A party to celebrate her life, as well as Scott’s, will be held at their home on what would have been their 45th anniversary, March 3. More information can be found at www.life-love-jean-scott.com.