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Louise W. Carolan

Date of Death: January 25, 2015

Date of Birth: December 22, 1923

Biography:

TOPSHAM - Louise Willingham Carolan passed away on January 25th, 2015 at the age of Ninety One. The granddaughter of Sooner pioneers, she was born Clara Louise Willingham on December 22, 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She was the only child of James C. Willingham and Louise Cline.


It was her maternal grandparents, Alfred J. and Harriet Emma (Hoke) Cline who moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma during the last homesteading opportunity in 1901, six years before Oklahoma became a state. This was when lots on the former Kiowa-Apache-Comanche Reservation were opened up to anyone who could clear the land, plant crops, build a home and live in it all within one year. The Clines arrived in the frontier town of Gotebo with their son and daughter, ages 12 and 8, a team of two horses, a wagon and a few simple farm tools. They carved out a home, farm and ranch on 160 acres in Kiowa County, a spot which their granddaughter would remember throughout her life.


James Willingham, the son of a Presbyterian pastor in nearby Hobart was a young lawyer in Oklahoma City in the early 1920's when he met Louise Cline, who was then working in the Country Treasurer's office. They married in December, 1922, and their daughter was born a year later.


Louise Willingham was three years old when she moved with her parents to a new home on NW 22nd Street in Oklahoma City, and she immediately became a favorite of the other little girls on the street. Being the youngest and smallest, she played the role of the baby in countless games of "House." While her mother was intent on making Louise a perfect little lady, it was her Uncle Dick Cline who decided to "toughen her up" by taking the little girl to pow-wows on the Indian reservation, leaving her with Kiowa and Comanche women while he attended the horse races. Louise didn't mind, though, saying the women took such nice care of her and had the most beautiful shawls which she remembered clearly 85 years later.


She also remembered the Dust Bowl era, when the state was choking in a deadly, dusty drought. When Louise was nine years old she spent a hot, dry summer on the Cline farm, and on horseback would drive cattle twice a day to a shallow pond for water. She said she watched new crops wither away, with only the grasshoppers flourishing. When the nation was in the depths of the Depression during this same time, Louise recalled how every morning her mother would prepare a plate of sandwiches to hand out to an endless stream of people traveling on Route 66, a block away from their home, headed for the promised land of California. Once the sandwiches were gone, Louise's mother would then draw the shades and lock the door for the rest of the day.

In 1941, Louise graduated from Classen High School, and entered Monticello, a small women's college in Illinois. That is, until Pearl Harbor was attacked and she eloped with a young man before he left for war. Like so many hasty marriages back then, this one ended when the war did, leaving her with a young son, Jim.
She wasn't alone for long, marrying Donald Worthington in 1946, and moving to his family's dairy farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Don adopted Jim, and Louise later had twin boys, Gary and Glen. She loved speech and drama, and soon was teaching classes as well as performing and directing at a community theater with "The Barrington Players." She even once shared the stage with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, appearing in a magician's act.

Don's unexpected death in 1961 left her a single mom and determined to make a better life for herself and her boys. Louise went back to school at Boston University, studying alongside students half her age and earning a bachelor's and then a master's degree in speech pathology.

She met Charles "Chuck" Carolan, part-owner of the Cushman Baking Company in Portland, Maine, and they married in 1966. The couple lived in Falmouth while she worked at Pineland for about three years before Chuck's career took them to Houston, Texas, and then to Brownsville. Louise worked with public schools in Houston, and later in a Galveston clinic which she said was the best job she ever had. The couple shared a lot of laughs, a lot of golf, and a lot of good years, including retirement in Maine. Chuck died in 2004, and Louise moved to The Highlands in Topsham, saying she loved the community from the day she first arrived.

She played bridge, wrote of her years in her beloved Oklahoma, and made many friends. She was in her 90's when asked how she wanted to be remembered, and she laughed, saying she was "the Queen of Clutter Corner." She also said "Waste not, want not, and leave 'em laughing," and she usually did.

Louise Carolan was pre-deceased by her son Glen, and leaves behind her sons Jim Worthington (Frances), Gary Worthington (Nancy) and grandchildren Tracy, Kimberly, Tanner and Faren.

A Memorial service will be held at a later time.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be sent to: CHANS Home Health Care, 60 Baribeau Dr., Brunswick, ME 04011.

 

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