Caroline was born August 29, 1946 in Hastings, Michigan to H. Lowell & Lois M. (Clouse) Hofmeister.
During her lifetime Caroline resided in Yorkville, South Haven, Richland, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Galesburg, Michigan as well as, Dayton, Ohio.
Caroline attended Richland Schools, graduating from Richland High School in 1964.
While growing up, Caroline was active in 4-H Club and won numerous local and state awards including a statewide Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1964, for which she won a new Caloric Gas Range.
Following high school, Caroline attended the Bronson Hospital School of Nursing in Kalamazoo, graduating as a Registered Nurse in 1968.
Caroline met her future husband, Tom, in 1965 while attending classes at Western Michigan University as part of her nursing training. They were married July 1, 1966 at the Sunnyside United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo. Both were young, and though Tom was slightly older, Caroline was more mature had the strength and determination to keep the couple headed in the right direction. Over the years, not only has their love for each other grown and blossomed, they also became best friends. Together they raised two daughters, Helena Joy, and Angela Gaye. During Angie's junior year at Northview HS, the family opened their home for a year, and their hearts forever, to a wonderful foreign exchange student from Germany. Eva-Maria Lichtenberg was immediately, and always will be, considered one of their daughters.
Caroline worked as a labor and delivery nurse for more than 25 years at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, St. Mary's Hospital and Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, and as an Office Nurse/Administrator for an OB/GYN practice in Kalamazoo. Over the years, she lost count of the number of newborns that she helped usher into the world.
Caroline loved to give back to her community and participated in numerous organizations in both Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, including the Northview Schools Band Boosters, assisting at concerts, parades, and competitions; and the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, making pasties for, and assisting at, the church's booth at the annual Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts. After returning to Kalamazoo in 1987, Caroline joined the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League and worked on several of their community fund raising projects.
Through an organization in Kalamazoo called Kids Connection, Caroline met and started mentoring Whitley, a charming 7-year-old. Their time together was always special, whether it was an outing or just spending "girl time" together at home. Caroline made sure to include Whitley in family events such as birthdays and Christmas and enjoyed watching her grow into a beautiful young woman.
Caroline never stopped helping and mentoring, even during her final stay in the hospital. If there were student nurses assisting with her care, she would tell them stories about how things were done in "the old days" when she was a student and talk to them about life as a diabetic with kidney disease and about some of the medical procedures that she had personally endured over the years. She would encourage them to listen to the blood flow through her special artery/vein bypass (fistula) used for dialysis since it was something they would learn about, but might not encounter during their training.
Caroline was also extremely devoted to her family, usually working evening or night shifts so that she could be available for doing such things as being a room mother, attending parent teacher conferences, school programs and band concerts for both girls during their time in elementary, middle, and high school.
Caroline didn't stop when her girls graduated high school and entered WMU where they both joined the Bronco Marching Band. Being back in Kalamazoo by then, she and Tom organized other area WMU band parents to prepare a Homecoming Day chicken barbeque for out-of-town Bronco Band parents and the members of the band. Even after her girls had graduated, "Mom Lewis" would prepare a "refreshment break" for the band members on the last day of Marching Band Camp which always took place the week before regular classes started at the University. "Refreshment" consisted of dozens of loaves of homemade fruit breads baked by Caroline, along with several pounds of butter and gallons of McDonalds punch. There was rarely anything left but crumbs.
After her daughters became members of the Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity for Women (SAI), Caroline offered her home as a gathering place after new pledges completed their "Rose Musicale" initiation ceremony, continuing her practice of providing food and companionship to the girls. Dozens of SAI members have pictures of themselves and their friends, all in their beautiful gowns, posed around the Lewis' Grandfather clock. Over time, and because of her support of both organizations, Caroline became known to members of both the band and SAI as "Mom" Lewis. Due to her support of the local SAI chapter Caroline was initiated into the national organization as a Patroness in 1991.
Caroline didn't limit her support and commitment to just her girls. She supported her husband as well as evidenced by her willingness to move to Dayton, Ohio, when Tom's employer sent him there for training a few months after they were married. She was also willing to leave her job and move to Grand Rapids in support of his employment situation and to return to Kalamazoo eleven years later when that situation changed. Years later, when Tom joined the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Caroline, volunteered her people and cooking skills at Auxiliary gatherings, training camps, and District and National Conferences, earning several Certificates of Appreciation from both local and district officers of the Auxiliary.
Though not a musician, Caroline loved music and often joked that she could "only carry a tune in a bushel basket". She especially loved Christmas and decorating the house, and decorating cookies with her girls and nieces.
In addition to their "two legged" kids, Caroline and Tom raised several of the "four legged" furry variety as well. Caroline adored them all, but she especially loved her West Highland White Terriers (Westies) Gabriella Noel and Sallie Sue.
While not an avid boater, Caroline did like spending time on their boat in Grand Haven and just being near the water and enjoying the wildlife living there, especially on the small lake outside the home where she and Tom have lived since moving back from Grand Rapids in 1987. Her initial concern about the location of the home soon disappeared when they awoke after their first night there to find a large flock of geese swimming about fifty feet from the back of the house. Over the years they have watched dozens of geese and swans raise their young there. For Caroline, the highlight of each season was watching the youngsters' fall "flight training" sessions and their eventual final flight around the lake before flying away to join the rest of the world.
Caroline's love and dedication to her husband, family, and friends has resulted in over seventy-five years of a life well lived and a marriage that withstood the stress and test of time for more than fifty-five years. For their 25th wedding anniversary, Tom and Caroline renewed their wedding vows in a ceremony at the Sunnyside United Methodist Church, and on October 8, 2016, shortly after their 50th Anniversary, they joined 1,200 other couples at a Guinness World Record-setting Marriage Vow Renewal Ceremony at Western Michigan University.
Caroline was preceded in death by her parents, H. Lowell and Lois M. Hofmeister and her in-laws Howard F. and Barbara A. Lewis.
Caroline is survived by her husband Thomas W. Lewis of Galesburg, daughters Helena J. Hayes of Galesburg, and Angela G. Lewis of Kalamazoo and grandson Zachary T. Hayes of Galesburg, "extra" daughters Eva-Maria Lichtenberg of Germany and Whitley Snow of Kalamazoo, sister Deborah (Paul) Richardson, brothers Timothy (Connie) Hofmeister and Stephen (Nancee) Hofmeister, along with a sister-in-law, Rochelle A. Ferriel and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Visitation will be Thursday, March 24, 2022 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation, Care, Richland Chapel, where funeral services to celebrate Caroline's life will be 2:00 p.m., Friday, March 25. Visitation will also be one hour prior to the service on Friday, starting at 1:00 p.m. Interment will follow at Prairie Home Cemetery, Richland. Memorial donations may be made to the Ross-Augusta Fire Department, 12086 M-89, Richland, MI 49083 or to the Western Michigan University Band Fund, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008 (checks payable to Bronco Marching Band, or visit: https://secure.wmualumni.org/s/give?funds=PBAN%20ESBM). Personal message for the family may be placed at www.farleyestesdowdle.com.