Carole J. Sharp, 83, passed away peacefully on August 31, 2021 at Bronson Battle Creek.
Carole was born in 1938 to C. Lavern and Elizabeth M. Robbins. On the day she was born she became a third generation resident of Battle Creek. Family lore always maintained that at the hour of her birth the bells in the downtown churches were ringing. What a wonderful welcome! However, better yet was the fact that four grandparents and an aunt, all local residents, were eagerly waiting to give her their love. By the time of Battle Creek's Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1981 a fourth generation had long since arrived and the family was recognized as a Heritage Family.
Carole's parents and her husband, Wayne R. Sharp, preceded her in death. However, she is survived by a daughter, Julie Miller, and her family of Watts, Oklahoma, as well as two nieces, Anne McDonald of Lowell, MI and Beth Cole of Chicago. They and their respective families greatly enriched, supported and contributed to Carole's life.
As a youngster Carole hoped to become a skilled athlete. That was not to be. Her one brief shining moment came while taking tennis lessons at Kalamazoo's Stowe Stadium. That year it hosted the National Championship for Girls 14 and under. Doctor Alan B. Stowe, tournament director and ever the educator filled in the brackets with the names of selected local tennis students. It was a fantastic but humbling experience for Carole. She was skunked in the first round.
However, in second grade, Carole got her first library card and thought that the original children's reading room at Willard Library, with its marvelous murals, was a magical place. Oh, the places her mind could travel! Oh, the stuff she could learn! She became a voracious reader.
In 1956 Carole was the second generation in her family to graduate from Lakeview High School. Her B.A. with Honors was from Knox College and her M.A. in Education with a major in reading came from Michigan State University.
When she was first hired as a teacher she taught briefly at Harper Creek before moving to Birmingham to teach seventh grade English and Social Studies. However, she came to feel strongly that some students need added support with learning to read and write and that this needed to begin early. She asked to be reassigned so that she could work with elementary students as a reading teacher.
Some years later Carole returned to Battle Creek to teach, raise a family and eventually retire from the Lakeview Schools. While in Lakeview she helped young children learn to read and write.
Carole earned several professional designations relative to early literacy and in order to keep current with best practice she traveled extensively to conferences, many of them national and international. Her favorite was an International Reading Association World Reading Conference held in London. This opportunity was partially underwritten and recognized by a Kellogg Foundation Excellence in Education grant. She also made an effort to visit schools and observe in classrooms. Her favorite experiences took place in Japan and when she was able to spend a week in a New Zealand primary school.
Over the years Carole teamed with other area educators in order to create opportunities for teacher professional development and also for enhanced parent education. She was very supportive of the P.T.A. and upon retirement was named an Honorary Life Member.
She believed strongly in the old adage that "reading and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly." At one time she was part of a group that was instrumental in the publication of Young Author's Anthologies to showcase the writing of the area's youngest student authors and also in the staging of Young Author Breakfasts to honor them and their work. In her years at Lakeview she invited authors of children's books to visit, speak and interact with students whenever possible.
Some of Carole's efforts to motivate students were just plain wild and crazy. She created costumed characters such as Bob the Bookworm and Professor I AM SMART. The good professor was always gowned in graduation cap and a real, if used, judicial robe. There were occasional appearances by Mother Goose and her extraordinary goose puppet. In order to celebrate March Is Reading Month one year, Carole appeared one Saturday morning in an authentic drum major uniform, plumed hat, high boots, baton and with march music blaring in order to lead several hundred area students, teachers and parents as they marched and rallied around the interior of Lakeview Square Mall.
Good times continued after her retirement. Carole and Wayne traveled extensively and loved every trip. Over time they owned several different vacation homes. When they lived in Naples, Florida overlooking the Gulf they reveled in the sunsets. In Harbor Springs they lived high on a bluff overlooking Little Traverse Bay and belonged to Birchwood Country Club. Later, when living on Florida's east coast at Hobe Sound Golf Club, they would go to the nearby ocean front to marvel at the sunrise. Easter Sunday Sunrise Services overlooking the ocean were inspirational.
Carole particularly enjoyed her condo in Chicago, where she could begin her day with a walk to the lakeshore to watch the sun slowly peek over Lake Michigan and then spend the rest of the day accessing Chicago's urban adventures. She supported Chicago's major cultural institutions and attended the Fourth Presbyterian Church.
Of course, Wayne and Carole's former home here in Battle Creek, located on Goguac Lake and also facing the seventh fairway of the Battle Creek Country Club., had always been the perfect vacation spot. Golf, boating, power walks and nearby dining were there for the taking. Since Carole didn't like to cook Wayne greatly appreciated having a restaurant right down the street.
A private family gathering to toast and roast Carole's eventful life will be held in connection with her interment at Memorial Park Cemetery. Carole requested those who wished to honor her memory to do so by "paying forward" to others with acts of kindness. Arrangements by the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care.