Though we’ve all enjoyed some great moments with Learning in Retirement, few of us could claim as dramatic an introduction to it as Carol Williams. Encouraged by her friend Lois Hedge, Carol signed up for a canoe trip on Waupaca’s Chain of Lakes.
The canoe she was in went aground on the muddy bottom. Ever the volunteer, Carol hopped out of the boat to help free it – and stepped into a pothole that left her drenched to her shoulders. Fortunately, it was a warm day so wet and muddy clothes didn’t dampen her spirits. Unfortunately, that was not quite the end: on the drive home, the bus driver spotted an ice-cream stand, decided it was a good day for a cone, and made a quick U-turn. Carol, sitting in the front seat, slid off and landed in the aisle.
She relates this episode with the good humor that characterizes much of what she does. An LIR member for “four or five years,” she readily added a list of enticing courses to her already busy “retired” schedule. A native of Green Bay, Carol studied accounting after graduating from West High School. She worked in the Green Bay School System for several years, then married and moved to Racine. Then her husband was transferred to Riverside, California, where they lived for ten years. While there, they welcomed four children to their family in six years. In addition to motherhood, Carol discovered a new love: real estate. As she says, “it got in my blood,” combining her love of houses and her interest in people.
Leaving California, the family moved to Oshkosh in 1973, and Carol immediately earned her Wisconsin real estate license. Two years later she opened her own office and, as she puts it, “I am still peddling houses; that’s a lot of years and a lot of houses.”
With typical enthusiasm, Carol has served on the Tech Valley Advisory Committee for 18 years, and just this year she resigned from Oshkosh’s Board of Review for property tax equalization. Though she has cut back on real estate sales during the last four years, the word retirement is apparently not a part of Carol’s vocabulary. She was a long-time golfer until three years, when “the body warned me to slow up.” An avid bridge player, she is working on her Life Master designation, but Carol also takes advantage of every chance to play for fun. Her garden keeps her busy in the summer: “I’m a devoted dirt digger.” Though she admits her gardens may not be showplaces, she cultivates her flowers to be enjoyed. The Learning in Retirement garden group was pleased to claim Carol as a member, always willing to arrange sessions and doing some presentations herself. She is also active in her church, serving as a Stephen Minister who calls on shut-ins, and she has been an active Rotarian for over 20 years.
A widow for the past 33 years, Carol keeps in close contact with her four children and six grandchildren, “super-bright young persons that grandma is proud of.” She, her daughter and her daughter’s family vacation on a different Caribbean island each summer, taking advantage of clear blue waters for snorkeling.
Not surprising for someone with so much energy and such a wide variety of interests, Learning in Retirement has been a perfect fit for Carol. So far, she has convinced at least five other people to join, citing the many opportunities for fun and serious learning. LIR is lucky to have such an enthusiastic colleague.