Marshall Jennings Carper ’48

Marshall Jennings Carper, of Charleston, passed away on December 19, 2022. Born June 16, 1927, he was 95 years old.

Preceded in death by his parents, Lester Marshall Carper and Grace Jennings Carper, he is survived by his wife, Lois Fillmer Carper, to whom he was married only three days short of 71 years. He is also survived by his three children, David Wayne Carper and his wife, Carolyn Moore Carper, of Richmond, Va., Karen Grace Carper and her husband, Blair Kent Taylor, of Montrose, and Timothy Marshall Carper and his wife, Linda Miller Carper of Charleston; his grandchildren, Brian Christopher Talbott, M.D. (Siera) of Reno, Nev., Leah Elizabeth Talbott of Alameda, Calif., Kathleen Elizabeth Carper, Ph.D., of Roanoke, Va., and Andrew David Carper of Richmond, Va.; and his great-grandchildren, Jean Camille Talbott, Dashiell McDonald Talbott, and Zena Grace Talbott.

Born and raised in Bluefield, WV., Marshall grew up as the only child of Grace, a homemaker, and Lester, an accountant and assistant cashier at the Flattop National Bank. Active in scouting throughout his youth, Marshall achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1942, and graduated from Beaver High School in 1943 at age 16. He enrolled at Davidson College in North Carolina a mere five days after graduation, knowing he would be drafted at age 18 to serve in World War II.

Eager to have a choice of his branch of the military, Marshall enlisted in the Navy just before his 18th birthday. While in boot training in Chicago, the war ended, so he was sent to Japan to provide relief for the sailors who had been fighting the war. He spent nine months on three destroyer ships where he traveled the Yellow Sea.

After his tenure in the Navy, Marshall returned to Davidson College to finish his undergraduate education on schedule with his original class. He then attended and graduated from Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va., followed by an internship in Texas and a multi-specialty residency at what is now CAMC Memorial in Charleston. He decided to concentrate his medical career in general practice, opening his own private practice in Kanawha City in 1954. When the specialty of Family Medicine was established, he was elected a Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), participating in its induction ceremony in New York City. In 1992, he was proclaimed a lifetime member by the Academy.

From a very young age, music was one of the joys of Marshall’s life. Raised in the Baptist church in Bluefield, he was a member of the church choir. He also sang in the Beaver High School a capella choir. In college, he joined the Davidson Male Chorus. Its music director also happened to be the choir director of a local Presbyterian church who recruited men from Davidson College and women from nearby Queen’s College to sing in the church choir. One particular Queen’s College soprano named Lois Fillmer caught his eye. This is how Marshall met his wife of nearly 71 years: through the love of music and church. It did not hurt that they were also both from West Virginia. Starting then, they sang together in choirs for well over 60 years.

Marshall was an avid barbershopper with the Kanawha Kordsmen barbershop chorus, where he sang bass for 39 years. He was also a member of one of the Kordsmen’s quartets, the Pitch Hitters. His large collection of tapes and CDs focused on his love for vocal music, Dixieland jazz, and big bands.

Church membership and commitment were always a large part of Marshall’s life. He was a member of Ruffner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charleston for well over 65 years. He served as an elder, a church trustee, and on numerous committees. He was part of the early development and served on the Board of Directors of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, where he got to practice spiritual care.

After operating his private practice for nearly 20 years, Marshall was given the opportunity to train others in family medicine. Dr. Carl Tully recruited him in 1973 to join the Kanawha Valley Family Practice Center, which was begun to help train medical graduates in the specialty of Family Medicine. After Dr. Tully retired, Marshall was named the director and remained there for 17 years before retiring in 1992. He then continued working with students there for another 15 years at a weekly clinic before finally stepping down at age 80. The Marshall Carper Family Medicine Award was established in 2002 to recognize a West Virginia University medical student who exemplifies the best qualities of a Family Physician; this award was created in honor of Dr. Marshall J. Carper, the founding Chair of the Family Medicine Department at the WVU Charleston Division, and a doctor who exhibited excellence throughout his medical and teaching career.

In 1999, the West Virginia Chapter of the AAFP presented Marshall with the “Family Doc” award in recognition of “a lifetime of service as a dedicated family physician who has earned the continued respect of his patients and fellow physicians.”

The family will be forever grateful to his caregivers: Katy Greenlaw, Charlene Johnson, Sandy Pates, and Annie Sheely. Their love and care for Marshall allowed him to live in the comfort of his long-time home, enjoying his daily activities and time with Lois, his family and friends. The kind service and support of Kanawha HospiceCare of Charleston is also very much appreciated.

On Wednesday, Jan. 4, the family will receive family and friends at Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, 1118 Virginia St., E. Charleston, from 5-7 p.m. Funeral Service will be at 12 noon, Thursday, Jan. 5 at Ruffner Memorial Presbyterian Church, Quarrier and Greenbrier streets, Charleston. Interment will follow at Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your favorite charity in memory of Marshall.

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Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home in Charleston is in charge of arrangements.