Friday, July 25, 2014

Every One of Us Has a Story

The Legacy of Joan Carroll

January 10, 2013 by Bonnie Helander  
Filed under Good Stories

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Joan Carroll is an elegant, soft-spoken New Englander who has made Peachtree City her home after living and traveling all over the world. The youngest of three girls, Joan was born in Peabody, Massachusetts to Canadian parents. She has fond memories of lake vacations in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

Joan enjoys retired life in Peachtree City, surrounded by her family and her mementos from years of living overseas.

After attending college at Boston University for one year, Joan left Massachusetts in 1957 to train as a flight attendant with TWA. She worked domestic flights for two and a half years. During one of her flights, Joan met Tom Carroll, who was returning from active duty with the Army and flying to New York to pick up his baseball gear before reporting to spring training as an infielder with the New York Yankees. Tom played with some of the Yankee elite, including Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Hank Bauer and was on the team to witness Don Larsen pitching his perfect game in the 5th game of the 1956 World Series!

Tom and Joan began dating, with Joan traveling to visit Tom when he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics. They became engaged and married in 1960. After other baseball stops, Tom decided to finish his degree in History and International Studies at Notre Dame. Their first child, Jean, was born in South Bend just two days before graduation. At Notre Dame, Tom was recruited by the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer and thus began a 25-year career of work representing the United States’ interests all over the world.

It takes Joan a moment to recall all the places she and Tom called home during their time with the Foreign Service. After training in Washington, D.C. where their son John was born, the family moved to Rio de Janeiro where their second son Michael was born. Tom and Joan both became fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. Joan’s language skills gave her the opportunity to assist the diplomatic team with greeting visitors. While living in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Joan took U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gordon Cooper and their families on tours of the area. Other overseas tours of duty included Santiago, Chile and Caracas, Venezuela where their fourth child, Catherine, was born. Later they spent four delightful years in London. Then it was back to Brazil to the capital, Brasilia, where Joan got her “dream job” as a Community Liaison Officer for the embassy, arranging tours and interpreting for special guests, including President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush. Their last posting was in 1984 to Washington, D.C. for three years. Then Tom began working for a Latin American consulting firm in Miami, where he and Joan lived for 13 years.

After living such an exciting life all over the world, what were your priorities when you settled in Miami? When we moved to Miami, our daughter, Catherine, was still in school and very active. Like most moms, I was in the car driving her to all her sports and school activities. My first grandchild Eddie was also born in Miami, and I enjoyed caring for him while his mother finished her residency as a pediatrician.

Joan pauses during one of her travels for a photo with a market lady in Cartagena, Colombia.

I also taught ESL (English as a Second Language) classes to immigrant children in the school system. My love of gardening led me to join the Miami Beach Garden Club – one of the oldest in the country. During my time in the club, we raised funds to plant tropical shade trees in each of the public parks. As President of the club, I was responsible for a special project and helped design three herb “pizza” gardens at area schools. Our club also started a community garden for children across from the convention center in Miami Beach.

How has your life changed since moving to Peachtree City in 2000? What is important to you at this stage of your life? Peachtree City is a wonderful and restful place to live. Our home is large enough to accommodate our family and enjoy our eight grandchildren. I have filled our home with antiques, paintings, rugs and other mementos from our travels to remind me of where we have been.

I love to cook and specialize in international dishes, including the dishes of all the countries in which we have lived. My daughter Jean and my son Michael are gourmet cooks, so when we get together, WE COOK! Most of our children and grandchildren have developed pretty sophisticated palates. Painting is also one of my hobbies, and I’m thinking about doing a series of paintings on colonial Brazilian churches.

Tom and Joan Carroll get their extended family together for a family photo.

I became a Master Gardener in 2004 and am a member of the Peachtree City Garden Club. I enjoy flower arranging and serve on the Flower Guild at my church, St. Andrews in the Pines Episcopal Church. I also volunteer with the women’s auxiliary group that h

osts a yearly Christmas festival to raise money for church charities. Tom and I love to travel and hope to revisit some of our favorite places, including Spain, Ireland, England and Scotland.

My priorities right now revolve around my family and keeping in touch with old friends. I watch with pleasure my grandchildren growing up and going off to college. If I leave them any legacy, I hope it is a love of country, art, travel and music; a respect for all living things and the knowledge that we are all God’s children.

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About Bonnie Helander
I am a writer and blogger with a specialty in gardening and a proud graduate of the University Of Georgia. I live in Peachtree City with husband, Dan, and enjoy hiking, gardening, being a member of the Peachtree City Garden Club and rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs!

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