Member Spotlight: Len and Jan Carpenter

Len and Jan at Canvas Stadium
Len and Jan on the field at Canvas Stadium

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

Len (B.S., ’68; Ph.D., ’76) and Jan (B.A., ’67; CERT, ’67) Carpenter grew up in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, he on a ranch near the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, and she in the tiny town of Hooper. Both attended Sangre de Cristo High School, and they started dating on September 4, 1962. These Alumni Association Life Members have been season ticket holders for CSU football, volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball for decades. They not only love attending games and matches but have developed life-long friendships with many student-athletes and coaches.

Jan and Len at Canvas Stadium, 2018
Jan and Len at Canvas Stadium, 2018

Len played all sports in high school. When he enrolled at CSU, Jan, who was a telephone operator at the time, begged her parents to allow her to attend CSU as well. She paid for housing and food while they covered her tuition. As students, the pair attended football games at Colorado Field and basketball games in the packed South College Gym; Len even played some pick-up games there. In 1966, they stood in line for two hours to get into the first basketball game played at Moby. Jan says she liked sitting behind Coach Williams, where she “could hear him rant and rave.”

The Carpenters also remember College Days, the night Old Main burned, and protests of the Vietnam War and social injustices that occurred on campus during the late 1960s. Jan recalls being at Moby for a BYU game during which “a firebomb flew right over our heads.”

After graduation, Len was offered a position with the Division of Wildlife in Kremmling, Colorado, working on a mule deer research project. That experience convinced him to go back for a graduate degree at CSU. His research involved deer habitats as well as methods for improving wild rangelands. While completing his Ph.D., the couple moved back to Kremmling, where he worked with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. They returned to Fort Collins in 1981, and he worked at the Division of Wildlife Research Center. In the late 80s, he was placed in charge of all wildlife programs in Colorado, commuting to his office in Denver. He later became Southwest Regional Director of the Wildlife Management Institute.

The majority of Jan’s career was spent teaching English, Spanish, and speech, mostly in junior high schools. She did short stints at schools in Kremmling and Denver and a combined 25 years at Cache La Poudre Junior High in Fort Collins and Wellington Junior High. Later she did substitute teaching at Rivendell. The couple has one daughter, Carri, who is on the faculty at the University of West Virginia.

Len and Jan with Joe De Ciman at Moby Arena
Len and Jan with Joe De Ciman at Moby Arena

Len and Jan have been part of the Legacy Program for Men’s Basketball. They and other individuals and businesses give $50,000 over five years to cover the costs of a Ram student-athlete scholarship; their Legacy students have been Moe Wiltz, Cody Mann, Gerson Santo, and Joe De Ciman (B.S., ’16; M.E.D., ’19). The Carpenters also were recipients of the 2014 Larry LaSasso Spirit Award, given to those who display “exceptional spirit and enthusiasm for Colorado State athletics.” Jan is quite proud of their copy of John Hirn’s Aggies to Rams book, which is a history of CSU athletics. In it, she has collected autographs of athletes mentioned in the book; she currently has over 1000.

As the Carpenters say, “What we do is CSU! It is an identity.” They are featured in a video that can be viewed on YouTube titled, “Every Seat has a Story: The Carpenters.” Len and Jan Carpenter personify in amazing fashion what it is to be “proud to be a CSU Ram!”