Although Warren Carleton’s parents homesteaded here and he spent most of his life here, few people knew him. Fiercely independent and content with his own company, he lived alone in his little house just outside Moscow, consenting to enter the nursing home just days before he died May 24, 2019 at the age of 90.
Warren was born July 28, 1928 in Ferndale, Idaho to Chester Herbert Carleton and Phoebe Myers Carleton. His first memories were of living outside Moscow on what is now Mountain View Road. His father died in 1937 after an accident involving a run-away team of horses hauling a heavy piece of equipment. Warren remembers visiting his father in the Gritman Hospital before his dad died of a blood clot from the accident.
Life was hard for his family then, his mother being a young widow with four children and lacking the social safety net we depend on today. Warren was only 9 years old, but he remembers those were “very tough times.” His older brother went to work to help the family and his mother sold eggs and cream. Disaster struck again when Warren was only twelve – their house burned to the ground. Warren remembers “Before the fire, we had nothing, but after the fire we had less than nothing.”
In 1948, he joined the new United States Air Force and went to Lackland for basic training. He was trained as a jet mechanic at Chanute Field, Illinois, servicing the B-51s. His first duty station was at Elmendorff in Alaska. In 1950 he worked on the B-54s at Las Vegas. From there he was sent to bases all over the world; France, Germany, England, Korea, Libya and Japan. In northern Japan he served in a then “clandestine” mission, servicing and repairing the series “F” fighter jets.
After 21 years on active duty and attaining the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, he retired because he was “tired of bad, bad, accidents and just hated seeing all that happen.” He returned to Moscow, moving in with his mother and older brother. and never left. For a time, he repaired small engines and electronics in a shop he built on the family place. He was a savvy investor and a generous donor to charity. He never married or had children. All his siblings (Herbert, Laura, and Vera) died before him but he maintained close ties with his nieces.
He lived frugally and in a systematic way, performing household tasks much as his mother did before her death. His neighbors knew never to bother him on Mondays, because Monday was wash day, a task he performed on an ancient wringer washing machine. His neighbors had a surreptitious system of checking on him, watching for his daily trip to the grocery store at seven AM and whether or not he picked up his newspaper every day.
Warren knew from the minute he got his cancer diagnosis that at his age he wasn’t going to recover, so he would not accept treatment. Since he didn’t want to cause trouble for anyone, he felt the best way out would be to put his military mind to work on refusing to eat or drink. He did that in a rational way and died nine days later.
He is survived by his niece Donnie Sylvester (husband Byron) and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place and at his request there will be no funeral service.
Memorial donations may be made to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.