Try 1 month for 99¢

MIDDLETON / MADISON—Thomas Phelps Carpenter, age 78, passed away on Aug. 7, 2018, from Parkinson’s Disease. Tom will be remembered for being patient, encouraging, and respectful to his family and to those he worked with and mentored. He was fun-loving and enjoyed life; he was happiest after a bike ride, sitting down with friends and family to a gourmet meal cooked by Sally, his wife of 54 years, and sharing an excellent bottle of wine.

Tom spent most of his influential career as a professor of Mathematics education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, at UW-Madison. He held a deep commitment to mathematics, to teachers, to children, to equity, and to supporting the development of the field of mathematics education. He leaves behind an immense record of research, a long list of influential graduate students, numerous publications for teachers, and scores of university and school based colleagues. In 2004 he received the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant contributions in the field of math education at a national level.

Tom was especially known for his role in developing Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI), an approach to mathematics instruction based on how children intuitively think about mathematical concepts. CGI began as a research project, and over the past 30 years has grown into an approach that has transformed the teaching of tens of thousands of teachers and impacted hundreds of thousands of children.

Tom enjoyed many activities including biking in the summer, skiing in the winter, and lively dinner discussions. He and Sally traveled extensively to Colorado for skiing and throughout Europe to find the best biking and dining. Still Tom’s favorite vacation place remained his family’s house in Green Lake, where he spent every summer since childhood, sharing special time with family and friends.

Sign up to get each day's obituaries sent to your email inbox

Sign up here to receive a daily email alert of local and national obituaries

Tom is survived by his wife, Sally; sons, Bob and Steve; daughter-in-law, Amy; grandsons, Zach and Finn; and sister, Babbie. He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Dorothy.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, 11 a.m., at CRESS FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICE, 6021 University Ave., Madison. We encourage you to share memories and stories about Tom.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, directed to the Thomas and Sally Carpenter Fund for Diversity and Equity in Mathematics Education, ( Please share a memory at

Cress Center

Funeral and Cremation Service

6021 University Ave., Madison

(608) 238-8406

the life of: Carpenter, Thomas Phelps
Send Flowers
Or call 888-579-7982 to order by phone.