Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fearless Females: With Love, Carol Ann

Several weeks ago my family said good-bye to my cousin Carol Ann Reed Dryden after a courageous battle with cancer.  Carol Ann died on 7 March 2013 at her home along the North Fork of the Shenandoah River in Edinburg, Virginia.

Carol Ann was born on 19 February 1941 in Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Wayne Amer and Ruth Phyllis (Hoffman) Reed.  She lived with her parents in Aunt Lucy (Hoffman) Ray's house on Charleton Street in the Clapp Farm neighborhood of Oil City.  When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the United States was at war and like all able-bodied men of fighting age, Carol Ann's father soon found himself in the South Pacific, a Marine Private First-class fighting the Japanese.  Wayne was killed in action on Okinawa, Japan during the final days of the war on 15 May 1945. He left behind his widow Ruth and two children Carol Ann and Wayne II.

When Wayne left for the war, Ruth and her children moved across the street into her childhood home at 144 Charleton Street to live with her recently widowed mother Effie (Sanner) Hoffman.  There Ruth would raise her children and spend the rest of her life.  Carol Ann and her brother Wayne attended Clapp Farm Grade School and graduated from Oil City High School.  Carol Ann was a Girl Scout, a majorette in the marching band, and like many young women of her generation was an avid fan of Elvis Presley--an passion she would keep all of her life.

Carol Ann married Leon Caldwell after high school and along with their two children Lee and Alecia, lived in Rouseville, in the last house on the left on Main Street (Route 8) as you driving north.  Between the years 1969 and 1970, they spent the weekends helping my grandparents, Leonard and Kathryn Melat, at Indian Valley Campground which was located along the Allegheny River above Tionesta, Forest County, Pennsylvania.

Carol Ann and Leon divorced in the mid-1970s but with Carol Ann's determination she established a new and successful life for her and her children.  In 1977, Carol Ann, Lee and Alecia moved to Virginia where she worked for Automotive Industries Corporation in Strasburg. She eventually moved into a management position and retired from Lear Seating Corporation in Detroit, Michigan in 1997. Through her work she met a Ford Company employee Mike Dryden who she married on 17 August 1991 in Toms Brook, Virginia.  After their retirement, they moved into the house on the banks of the Shenandoah in Edinburg where Carol Ann spent the rest of her life.

There are many fond memories of times spent with Carol Ann. She had a great smile and laugh that I will always hear in my mind when I think of her.  She had a way of telling a story, especially family stories.  I loved to listen to her recount her memories of our family.  Carol Ann's favorite color was purple which manifested itself not only in the clothes and jewelry she wore but also in an collection of purple cow--from collectable figurines to slippers (and I can't forget to mention the collection of Elvis paraphernalia). 

Any recounting of Carol Ann's life would be incomplete without a mention of knitting and crocheting.  My grandmother Kathryn (Hoffman) Melat taught Carol Ann how to knit and crochet; skills she perfected over the years and her family is undoubtedly left with what are now precious heirloom afghans! She built an important circle of friends through her knitting club in Virginia.

In the end Carol Ann's legacy is how much she cherished her family.  Whether it was her own children and grandchildren, her brother and his family, her sister Cordie, or her cousins, like myself, she kept them close to her heart.  Our family is much more vibrant for Carol Ann being a part of it. 

As she signed the graduation picture that she gave to my grandparents,

With Love, Carol Ann


  1. Kipp,
    This is wonderful. Carol Ann was a vibrant and warm person. I have so many wonderful memories that I will always treasure. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Kipp,

    Thanks so much for writing this, Carol would have loved it. She was the rock of our family and I miss her everyday. She was so positive and courageous through the past 3 years with the cancer and I commend her for the bravery she showed. This was a beautiful tribute to her life.