The Eulogy for Carol (Payne) Korab


The following eulogy was given on May 22nd, 2021 at the Parsippany United Methodist Church.

Carol was born on July 11, 1939 in Brooklyn, NY.  Her parents were Carl and Anna Osvold, first generation Norwegian immigrants who passed through the hallowed walls of Ellis Island.  Carol was a “late in life” surprise blessing, following two significantly older sisters, Jean and Louise.

At age nine Carol learned to knit — the beginning of a life-long love of handwork, a practice through which she produced much beauty, and one to which she would turn throughout her life to bring calm in times of stress.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Carol’s life revolved around the local Methodist church – her second home and “first love” as Chris and Dianna called it.   She played on the church basketball team.

After graduating from high school, Carol took a job working as a secretary in a bank in Manhattan. A year later, Carol took a leap of faith, moving from Brooklyn to the small town of Newfield in upstate New York. Her sister Jean had previously moved up there to take a job working for an airline in nearby Ithaca.  Carol took over her sister’s apartment and landed a secretarial job at a life insurance company.

Jean’s husband had a nephew named Jim, a kind-hearted farm boy, and soon after Carol’s arrival in town Jean and her husband arranged for Carol and Jim to meet at a local dance, after which they began to date.   Their backgrounds couldn’t have been much different – Carol from the big city and Jim a country farm boy, but nonetheless something clicked between them.

Their difference in backgrounds is expressed in a story told of one of the first times Carol visited Jim on the farm.  As Jim was out tending to the cows in the field, Carol thought she’d be helpful by washing the filthy windows of the barn.  When Jim came into the barn with the cows, Carol thought he’d be pleased by the work she had done to create such sparkling clear windows.   To her astonishment though Jim promptly splattered mud all over the newly washed windows.  Windows that clean, Jim informed her would confuse the cows — they’d end up busting their heads through the glass.

Two years later in 1960 as both were turning 21 — Carol just two weeks older than Jim – the couple took the vows of marriage on a very hot summer day back in Carol’s home church in Brooklyn.  It was so hot they were afraid the four-tier high wedding cake would collapse, but fortunately it stood strong.  They spent their honeymoon exploring Washington, DC.

Following their honeymoon, Jim and Carol returned to Newfield.  Carol’s parents had also followed Jean to upstate New York, and for a couple of years Jim and Carol lived in the upstairs of her parents’ house as Jim worked various jobs in Ithaca.

At some point they bought a house of their own a half hour away in the town of Freeville, and Jim began working for Agway. Dianna was born later on in 1961, followed three years later by Linda in 1964.  Eighteen months later Chris was born on January 30th, 1966 in the midst of a huge snow storm. With Carol commencing labor, they set out by car for Carol’s sister’s house, but realizing they wouldn’t make it up their steep hill, they dropped off the girls at the home of Jim’s brother’s girlfriend instead. With the help of a friend they hurried off to get to the hospital in Ithaca on time.   Jim dropped Carol at the hospital and then after a quick stop to drop off the friend, he returned to the hospital discover that Chris had already made his entrance into the world.

In 1967 Carol and Jim decided to move their young family to New Jersey where Carol’s sister Louise and her husband had moved to the town of Rockaway.  Having grown up in the depression era, Carol was very financially minded, and recognized the potential for business growth in Parsippany.

Initially, the family lived in an apartment complex before closing on their home on Allentown Road.  Jim took a job at Redmen Press on Rt. 53 where Jim worked in the darkroom while Carol did the work of a stay-at-home mom raising their three young children.

The neighborhood was a happy one for a young family, with lots of children to play with.  Close friendships were quickly formed with their nearest neighbors:  Mrs. Herzog lived across the street with whom Carol would visit with each day for coffee and cigarettes.  Mrs. Maciag lived next door, and on the other side lived an older couple named Hazel and Ray Kosinski.

There was a ceramic studio not far from their house, and every Thursday evening after dinner Carol would go to a class offered there accompanied by Mrs. Herzog, Mrs. Maciag, as well as another friend, Loraine Bleiker.   Eventually Carol went into a business partnership with Loraine, purchasing the studio together.  The studio backed up to the children’s elementary school, so after school Linda and Chris could stop in to visit their mom at her studio.

At home, everybody had their chores.  The family enjoyed family nights playing cards and board games together.  Frequent trips in the summer and sometimes on holidays were made back to Newfield, New York to visit relatives.

Carol and her sister Louise would take turns hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner.  Carol was generally not known as a great cook, but she could pull off a good traditional Norwegian Fresh Ham dinner.  Carol’s sister Louise had two daughters and a son close in age to Dianna, Linda and Chris which made the time they spent together particularly happy and full of play.

Early on Carol and Jim tried out a couple of local churches before being won over by the love they experienced at the Parsippany Methodist Church where they soon felt very much at home.

Unfortunately, at some point Jim’s work life hit some bumps.  He worked at another location for the printing company, but eventually took what seemed like a promising job working for UPS.  After thirty days of employment Jim would have qualified to join the union, receiving the job security union membership provided, but just before his thirtieth day on the job Jim was suddenly let go, leaving him with no way to support his family.

Jim was devastated.  The loss of the job, however would soon seem relatively small in comparison to the challenges the family would shortly thereafter find them facing.

Jim and Carol began making plans to move the family back to upstate New York.  On a trip to scout out job opportunities, Jim was helping his father on the farm on a hot summer day when out of the blue he suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital.

Carol left the children with neighbors and hurried up to New York to spend the week by her husband’s bedside before he could be released and brought back to New Jersey.

The years that followed were extremely stressful for the family.  Jim was only 36 years old when his heart attack struck, with kids to raise ranging from Chris in fourth grade to Dianna in ninth.   In the three years that followed, Jim would suffer two more heart attacks and enter the hospital 14 separate times.  Whenever they were out playing in the neighborhood and heard the sound of an ambulance, the children’s first thought was that the ambulance might be coming for their father.

Incredible amounts of pressure weighed on Carol’s shoulders.  She had to care for her husband, figure out how to pay some bills and hold other bill collectors at bey, all the while looking after her three young children.  Up until this point in her life, Carol had done very little driving and didn’t feel comfortable behind the wheel.  Dianna remembers a car ride with her mother on the way into Morristown to apply for food stamps – her mother clutching the steering wheel with white knuckles, softly crying in terror.

Furniture and the second car were sold to get the money to pay bills.  Carol sold the Ceramics Studio and took a job working as the night secretary at Morris County Vo Tech.

Another memory that stands out from this time was when Jim’s first disability check finally arrived in the mail, and Carol weeping for relief that she had money to pay some of the bills.  It would take years for all of Jim’s medical bills to be paid off.

Unable to do the various kinds of work Jim had done in the past because of the physical demands they required the State paid for Jim to go back to school to study to become a draftsman.   Finally, three years after his first heart attack Jim was able to take a job working for Edwards Engineering in Pompton Plains.

With Jim back at work, some sense of normalcy returned to the family’s life.  Recognizing the need, Carol and Jim started our church’s very first youth group, which they led for several years.  The youth group would meet Sunday nights in different members’ homes, with a different topic to discuss.  Under Carol and Jim’s guidance, the youth helped out with the church’s roast beef dinner, put on variety shows, and went on the occasional camping trip.

In 1988 Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Fortunately, it was caught early and a light dose of chemotherapy was sufficient for Carol to become cancer free.  But Carol’s ordeal occurred just before Jim’s health declined.  Following his first three original heart attacks, Jim had been able to work as a draftsman for nearly eleven years before his heart began to fail.

On April 3rd, 1989 Chris, Nancy and Mitchell arrived at the house just as Jim was being taken by stretcher to the ambulance that would take him to the hospital.  It would be summertime before Jim would return home again.  Cared for at home by Carol, Jim died the following February at the age of fifty, a month before the birth of his granddaughter Sarah.

Carol was devastated by Jim’s death, but with the strength she drew from her faith and the love of her children – now young adults – and along with the joy she received from her grandchildren – Carol found the courage to persevere.  The support of her church and her neighbors also sustained her.  All of this support also helped sustain Carol in 1991 when once again she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This time Carol needed a mastectomy, as well as chemo and radiation treatments. Following the treatments, gratefully Carol once more was cancer free.

Overtime, the close network of friendship that her neighborhood had provided also brought new love into Carol’s life.  As mentioned earlier, Hazel and Ray Kosinski lived next door, and Ray’s younger brother Clem lived around the corner where together with his wife Flo they had raised two sons, Steve and Tom who were part of the neighborhood group of kids with which Carol’s three children had grown up.  Clem’s wife Flo had died a year and a half before Jim’s death.

Clem and Carol new each other by being “back-yard” neighbors.  At one point when Clem and Carol both had plans to make trips to upstate New York, Clem offered to drive Carol and she gratefully accepted. During the course of the drive a deeper connection was made. Clem was by nature light-hearted and fun-loving — just what Carol needed after all the struggles and grief she had endured for so many years.   Soon a new love was blossoming.  In May of 1995 Clem and Carol were married.

Clem loved to eat and to cook, which, truth be told was not one of Carol’s gifts.  Many years earlier, Dianna’s best friend, Janet Einemann Sass had given Carol a sign to put in her kitchen that read: “You know dinner is ready when the smoke alarm goes off”.  This was true!

Clem introduced Carol to the fun to be had going on a cruise, including the abundance of good food.  They became “snow birds”, spending winters in Ellenton, FL near the ocean to which Clem had always been drawn.  He enjoyed going deep sea fishing, and early on introduced Chris to this joy, and the experience became one they shared regularly – the sort of experience that Chris and his Dad with all his work demands and health issues rarely got to share together.

This was a happy period of Carol’s life.  Sadly though, in time Clem was diagnosed with cancer.  As Clem’s health declined, Carol once again found herself lovingly tending to a dying husband.  The last three months of Clem’s life were particularly difficult as Carol took care of him at home.  After seven years shared together happily married, Clem died in November of 2002.

Grieving yet again, Carol continued to spend her winters in Ellenton, FL where she had so many happy memories of times shared with Clem.

After a social event celebrating Carol’s 65th birthday she met a warm-hearted widower named Ben Korab who enjoyed life with a positive attitude. Ben and Carol found delight in one another’s company. In July of 2004 Carol and Ben were married. (SLIDE) Approximately seven years later Carol sold her condo in Morris Plains after which Carol and Ben lived full time in Florida. Together Carol and Ben shared a lot of fun, attending dances, plays and comedy shows at some of the development’s many halls. As Clem had once introduced Carol to the joy of going on cruises, so now Carol did the same for Ben.

Linda has an especially happy memory of visiting her mother and Ben there – one during which they laughed heartily.

They spent several happy years together.

Early on during the Pandemic in February of 2020 Ben suffered a serious heart attack.  After an extended stay in the hospital and a rehab center, Ben was released to come home in May in an extremely frail condition.  Once more, Carol cared for a beloved husband as he approached death.  Chris came down to Florida to help with Ben’s care because Carol simply didn’t have the strength to lift Ben by herself.  A sudden turn for the worse sent Ben once more to the hospital. Upon arriving it was discovered that he had suffered another heart attack.  In addition, he was diagnosed with advanced stage multiple myeloma. On May 23, 2020 departed from this world.

Carol’s energy drained, and with barely time to grieve, a doctor’s appointment in June – just three months after Ben’s passing — revealed yet another diagnosis of breast cancer. This time the cancer was metastatic, having developed a large mass under her ribcage and next to her heart. They also found two additional smaller masses in her neck. In August the Oncologist determined that Carol would need to start chemotherapy. The doctor stated that Carol’s cancer wasn’t curable — only treatable — and that she would not be able to be alone during her treatment. Chris and Nancy made arrangements to bring Carol to their house in Pennsylvania where they could look after her.

Five months later, her strengthened weakening Carol entered a supportive care living facility.  In March with Carol’s condition rapidly deteriorating she was brought to the hospital.  On Saturday, March 6th, in spite of her great weakness Carol found comfort in holding her new baby grandchild, James.

By Sunday Carol was losing consciousness, the last words she would speak being “I love you” to her daughter Dianna on the phone.  Early in the morning of March 8, 2021 Carol peacefully breathed her last breath in this world and went to be with God.

Carol was the beloved grandmother of Mitchell, Sarah, CJ, Jonathan, and Morgan, and the beloved great-grandmother of Javon, Ethan, Ryleigh, Sienna, Greyson, Dax, Elijah, and James.

Throughout her life, Carol demonstrated extraordinary strength and courage, meeting the challenges and heartbreaks that life brought her time and again, always holding fast to her wonderful sense of humor, embracing joy whenever it came her way.  She had an independent streak and could be quite stubborn, but she was always there ready to help when the need arose.

Linda has a memory from when she was twelve and she and her mother were at the hospital visiting her father during one of his many hospital stays.  She was out of her father’s room when she heard a code called and quickly realized the medical team was rushing to her father’s bedside where his heart had stopped.  She watched from a distance as her mother sat close to watching the trauma that might bring her beloved husband’s life to an end.  How terrifying it must have been.  The medical team applied the paddles, and the electric jolts brought Jim’s heart beat back.

Several years later, Linda asked her father about the experience.  He described hovering above the room watching what was happening – watching her.  She asked him what he felt.  “Peace”, he told her.  “Imagine the most beautiful sense of peace you’ve felt in this life and stretch it to eternity.”  Because of that experience, Jim told his daughter, he had no fear of death.

And now Carol has entered into that blessed peace — eternal light and love that is God.  She has been welcomed home by Ben, Clem and Jim and all those who have gone before.

We are here because God created us out of love, in order that we might – in our own, imperfect way – shine some of that same love.  In her life showed us the courage that is love.  Love, said the Apostle Paul, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”  (1Corinthians 13:7,8)