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West Richland and Waterloo grad, Harry Hovarter's daughter Carolyn has passed away (on 12-12-11)

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  • Bob Friend
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 15, 2011
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                   --BOB  FRIEND

      Carolyn Stahl
      Staff Reports
      Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 12:00am

      KENDALLVILLE — Carolyn S. Stahl, 72 of rural DeKalb County died at 3:45 p.m. on December 12th, 2011, at Lutheran Hospital, Fort Wayne, with her family by her side. She was born at home on June 23, 1939, to the late Harry and Pauline (Sherwood) Hovarter.

      Born and raised on the family farm, she attended West Richland, a two-room country school for grades 1 through 8. She was very intelligent and had leadership skills; and when in grades 6-8, if the primary grade teacher had to be gone for part of the day, Carolyn taught her four grades. This continued at the high school where she filled in for elementary teachers or the office secretary. She attended and graduated as valedictorian from Waterloo High in 1957. Her leadership and social skills resulted to being elected to various offices in high school groups: FHA, President 2; Y Teens, President 2 and Song Leader 4; Concession Store Manager, 3; Choral Ensemble, 3-4; Beta Club (predecessor of National Honor Society), Treasurer 3-4; and Co-Editor of Annual Staff, 4. She qualified for state contests in math and won numerous academic awards. She was proud being an alumna of Waterloo High and is the only classmate to have planned and attended every class reunion. Indeed, she was the Layout Editor of a booklet published in 1967 titled “Waterloo Alumni Album: 1879-1967.”

      Her principal urged her to go to college to become a teacher, which she’d always wanted to do, but young love won out over her scholarship, and on August 11, 1957, she married her handsome high school sweetheart, James W. Stahl. She became a supportive, loving wife and helped Jim run their farms, especially helping with field work, which she continued for years. She also worked, though young, as an executive secretary at Rieke’s. Two years later she became PG, and the custom then was for an expectant mother to quit at 6 months, so she did.

      Born unto this union were two daughters, Karen Sue in December of 1959, and Diane Kay in August of 1961. As a dedicated, loving mother she became very involved in what the girls were doing. At the elementary level, she volunteered as a Room Mother to help their teachers with activities, parties, holiday plays and events. She was also an officer of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization.) In high school and college, she supported and attended their activities, be they sports, drama, academic awards, and music presentations and awards, both band and vocal. She was proud that both girls earned college degrees.

      Carolyn was well-read and actively involved in music, church, and community affairs. She had a life-long interest in music, playing piano since age 5, and enjoying singing, as well. She pursued her interest in singing in high school, was a charter member of her church choir, sang in community choirs for Easter and Christmas concerts, including several years in Handel’s “Messiah,” sang in the Women’s University Chorale while in college, and sang tenor in a female gospel quartet for 8 years. The quartet was invited to sing for inmates at Pendelton’s State Penitentiary, and after getting clearance at all checkpoints, being locked in with the inmates was a bit unnerving, she said. She enjoyed going to live concerts or listening to CDs of country, southern gospel and classical instrumental music. Her song may have ended, but her melody lingers on.

      She was very active in the Maple Grove United Methodist Church, where she was a former choir member, taught Sunday School and Bible School, and was MYF youth group sponsor for her church for many years. In addition, she was MYF sponsor for her sister church for 5 years. She served as the church’s chair of the Outreach Mission Committee for several years and became a certified lay speaker for the North Indiana UM Conference, filling in for pastors. She and Jim personally donated the funds for building a new bedroom during the expansion of Goshen’s Bashor Children’s Home and dedicated the room in honor of their church.

      She gave back to her community by serving on the board of the DeKalb County American Cancer Society for 8 years after winning her battle with cancer in 1982. She also drove patients to Fort Wayne for oncology treatments. She solicited funds for the new DeKalb High’s band uniforms, and carried petitions to get direct dial phones for Corunna and Ashley patrons. She was a hard-working member of DeKalb’s Cedar Creek Antique Tractor and Engine Club. She also was a member of the Model Home Extension Club, holding several offices, including President.

      She turned her interest to politics, as well. When Dean Kruse first organized a Young Republicans group she and Jim joined and became actively involved. Carolyn worked in headquarters, doing whatever needed to be done. Soon she became Central Committee Secretary and did all kinds of tasks for the party locally, and served on the election boards at several State Conventions in Indianapolis. She has spoken personally to three U.S. Presidents and two Vice Presidents, and after receiving five invitations to Presidential Inaugurations, she and Jim did attend one and all the related festivities accompanying the event in Washington, D.C. She continued doing what she could for the GOP.

      A gifted person, still wanting to be a teacher, she waited until her daughters were in school to enroll in college. She graduated with Highest Distinction with a Bachelor of Science degree from IUPU’s Fort Wayne campus in 1974, and earned the same honor of her double Master’s Degree in English and Counseling & Guidance from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1977. She was a Life Member of IU’s Alumni Association. She taught English at McIntosh Junior High in Auburn and at the new DeKalb Middle School when it opened. She served as chairwoman of the English Department until she was appointed Director of Guidance the last 11 years before retiring. She served on several NCA (National Creditation Association) teams which evaluated other middle schools in Indiana. The teams consisted of educational professionals from other schools who used their expertise for their 3-4 days of evaluation.

      Carolyn always had a ready smile and an easy laugh, and was given to much encouragement and hospitality. She was respected by her colleagues and the numerous young people she influenced, many of whom maintained a friendship throughout her 30 years at school and even after she retired. Indeed, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, relatives and friends would come to her for counsel from the time she was a teen. She felt God had destined her to be a counselor as she led people into self-discovery be being good at asking people the right questions so they could find their own answers. She was a member of the National Guidance Association, the DeKalb Education Association, the Indiana State Teachers Association, the National Education Association, and the Indiana State Retired Teachers Association.

      Mrs. Stahl had many varied interests, but she was basically an outdoors person. As a youngster she picked wild strawberries and black raspberries in the woods and fence rows. She got out in early spring to hunt morel mushrooms and enjoy the first glimpses of wild flowers. She was known for growing spectacular fruit, vegetable and flower gardens and sharing with family, neighbors and friends. She spent time cooking, canning and freezing her fruits and vegetables. She will be remembered as a dedicated homemaker and a talented seamstress who made lots of clothing for herself, her immediate family, and her other family members and friends. Known as the backbone of the family after her Mother died in 1983, and Bonnie, her sister-in-law, in 1984, she hosted large birthday dinners, family holiday gatherings and weekly summer potlucks at their summer cottage on Lake Gage.

      Carolyn had a life-long interest in fun in the sun and water activities with her family as a child, and with her own family after she married. They usually rented a lake cottage with her brother, John’s, family after school has started in September because farming was slow and more cottages were available. She and Jim had learned to water ski, but when Karen started school, September vacations ended, so they decided to buy one they could use when time permitted. They liked Lake Gage best of all the lakes where they had vacationed, as the water was clean and clear, and the lake was so beautiful. They found one they could afford and still own it today.

      She was a beloved daughter to her parents, spending lots of time with them, and as her mother always said, “being her eyes.” (Pauline was blinded by a brain tumor during her pregnancy for Carolyn.) She spoke to her mother daily on the telephone, and they came to the lake frequently, often staying over. She was a cherished daughter-in-law as well, and Jim’s parents came up at least weekly, as did other family members from both sides.

      Usually vacations were spent at the lake, swimming, boating, water skiing (they’d taught their elementary-aged girls and many relatives and friends to ski), fishing and playing all kinds of indoor and outdoor games, puzzles and cards with the girls plus playing Euchre with adults. She had a passion for Lake Gage and talking with people, so she enjoyed both during the time and cookouts spent with family, old friends and the many new friends she had made at the lake. She had stayed at the lake lots over the summer months, and after she and Jim retired, both had stayed 5-6 months. An avid reader, she could often be seen reading in the front lawn in chairs, at her picnic table, on the seawall, or in their pontoon. Lake friends would stop and visit. Because she was very involved, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the Lake Gage-Lime Lake Association for several terms, and chaired a committee which developed a packet for new residents to the lakes.

      Memorable trips not at the lake were in 1976, the nation’s Bicentennial, visiting historical spots in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, their two trips to California to visit friends and family in the 1980s, their trip to Hawaii in 1995, and to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996 to attend the Olympics, and annual trips to visit Diane and her family in California after they moved there in 2002. During the fall and winter months, she became the family historian and wrote 14 different articles for the DeKalb County History Books published in 1987 and 2005. She wrote of her and Jim’s forefathers from the present back to the time when they came to American in the 1700s. This took time, perseverance and research, which she was willing to do for the family’s histories to be included in the publications.

      Carolyn was a generous and loving grandmother, sister, and aunt, and such dear kind-hearted special friend to so many people. She was a loving and caring woman, loyal to her friends. When she knew someone was sick, she would make a special effort to send cards or visit. She loved watching her children’s, grandchildren’s or great-grandchildren’s sports, dance and musical endeavors.

      She was also a loyal Bob Knight IU Basketball fan. She and Jim had season tickets for over 20 years and often shared or took family and friends to the games. After she’d held up a positive sign about Bobby, which was caught on TV at one of the games, she was surprised to get a phone call from him and later a personal birthday card, as well. They had earned enough points from their contributions to IU scholarships that they were able to buy tickets from the Varsity Club to many NCAA Regional and Big Ten games. These points also counted in the lottery draw for the NCAA Final Four games, and they were lucky enough to get tickets to many of these games. IU’s tournament games took them to many cities and states, but the spark left for the Stahl’s when Bobby left, though they continued their annual donation to the IU Foundation.

      Being an inspiration to her family and friends will be missed, her smile and laugh will be greatly missed, but above all, her caring and everlasting bonding will be missed most. According to a long-time friend, “She was well read and very involved, but one whose sense of curiosity never left.” She was truly a “people’s person,” who loved spending time with friends and family at Lake Gage. In 2010, health problems did not allow them to be at the lake, and she told many how very much she missed the lake and the many friends they had made there. While she will be sadly missed, we rejoice that she is healthy, happy and enjoying her reward in heaven.

      (This personal memoir was written over the past few months by Carolyn. In respect of her wishes, her family has offered this for publication.)

      Carolyn is survived by her husband of 54 years, James Stahl. Also surviving are two daughters, Karen Bruner of Auburn, and Diane (Chris) Calcaterra of Coto de Caza, Calif.; 7 grandchildren, Michelle Sowles (Rodney) Walker, of Columbia City, Brad (Sara) Sowles of Kendallville, Bryan Bruner of Auburn, Nick Calcaterra of Coto de Caza, Calif., and triplets, Andrew, Claire and Grant Calcaterra of Coto de Caza, Calif; 5 great-grandchildren, Kylee and Kenna Walker of Columbia City, and Gavin, Owen and Kallen Sowles of Kendallville; a brother, John (Barbara) Hovarter of Corunna; a brother-in-law, Tom L. Stahl of Waterloo; and a sister-in-law, Charlene Stahl of Auburn; and three nieces, Shari Gebert of Auburn, Lynette (Todd) Duval of Auburn, and Kelly (Steve) Snider of Auburn; and 2 nephews, John B. (Michelle) Stahl of Ashley; and Tom E. Stahl of Waterloo; and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

      She was preceded in death by all grandparents; aunts and uncles; her parents; her husband’s parents, Clark and Edna (Bowman) Stahl; a sister-in-law, Bonnie Hovarter; a brother-in-law, John Stahl; and 3 good lake friends, Robert Kline, Lauerlie Prior and Jeff Finch.

      Her friends and family were the great joys of her life, and her family invites you to celebrate her life at a visitation for family and friends on Thursday, December 15, from 2-8 p.m. at Feller & Clark Funeral Home, 1860 Center St., Auburn.

      Visitation will also be held at 9 a.m. on Friday, December 16, prior to the celebration of life service held at 10 a.m. at Feller & Clark with the Rev. Michael Halferty officiating. Burial will be in the Corunna Cemetery, S.R. 327.

      Memorials may be given to the Maple Grove United Methodist Church, UMCOR, DeKalb’s Chapter of the American Diabetes Association, or The American Association for Kidney Patients.

      To view an online obituary, sign the guest book, or send condolences to the family, please visit www.fellerandclark.com .

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