On Saturday, March 20, friends gathered at the Cromwell Covenant Church to celebrate the life of Carol (Conklin) McNaughton, prophet of grace, straight-talking friend to many.
Carol distinguished herself throughout her life. She grew up in Lansing, Michigan and after attending North Park College for a year, transferred and graduated from Michigan State University in 1957. In 1958 she married Bob, another Michigander, a pastor and friend to many. Carol taught children in California, Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey where she became the founding director and head teacher of a church-sponsored preschool program. She was a teacher her entire life.
When the family moved to Connecticut, Carol became a part-time teacher at The Learning Center of a residential treatment center for neglected and abused children and earned an MS degree at Central Connecticut State University. She was a special education teacher and educational diagnostician until her retirement in 1996. This is merely the list of Carol’s professional life. She read widely and was an active participant in book groups. A creative seamstress, she made many items for her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren, until just two weeks prior to her death. She sang in church choirs, taught Sunday school, served on Christian education boards and, with Bob, raised a great family of four children: Tim, Brian, Susan, and Ann.
When she read Penrod’s “Varieties of Grace” in Pietisten, she responded immediately. She wanted to be sure that Penrod was giving grace all its due.
George Elia and Alden Johnson paid tribute to Carol at the Memorial Service. George Elia remarked that in virtually every room in their home they have something that was made for them by Carol. David Sundell, long-time friend preached. Here are portions of that sermon.
“Someone said that a friend is someone who walks in after the whole world walks out. A friend is someone who can come in your house without knocking and help herself to whatever is in the refrigerator. A friend is someone with whom you feel safe. A friend creates space wherein you can find sanctuary. A friend is someone who knows you and your warts thoroughly, and in spite of that, accepts you and cares about you. A friend gets up and goes out in the middle of the night and answers your call for help. Carol was a friend.
“Carol carried her humanity with determination and dignity to the day of her death. She had the gift of lucidity that enabled her to enjoy her family when she could enjoy little else. When she bid me her last good bye, it was with her unwavering voice that held no fear.
“We are happy for Carol that her limitations and pain have ended. We grieve for our loss. But most importantly we are certain that because of God’s wild and magnificent love, when Carol met her Lord, she was welcomed with the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; enter the joy that has been prepared for you.’”
Blessings on Carol’s family and friends and blessings on her memory.