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Life Story / Obituary
Carolyn Anne Molinosky finished her earthly pilgrimage and entered Paradise on January 1, 2024. She was born on January 13, 1937, to James and Alice Miller, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her father was an auto mechanic who owned a garage on Cherry Street near St. Mary's Hospital, and her mother was an elementary school teacher at Belmont Elementary in Rockford. Carolyn grew up in the Creston neighborhood and attended Aberdeen Elementary. When she was three years old, she met Dixie Harding, her lifelong best friend. During World War II, she and her classmates practiced for air raids by filing out of the classroom and going to their color-coded safe place. It was Carolyn's job as a little girl to help enforce "blackout drills" along Hollywood Street where her family built their first home. As a small child, her parents bought a cottage on Bill’s Lake in Newaygo, a place of many special memories with family and friends. In 1955, she graduated from Creston High School. As a young woman, she was active in the social sorority Epsilon Sigma Alpha and honored as "Girl of the Year" in 1962 (funny, given she was a married woman with three children at the time).
On October 3, 1959, she married Larry Molinosky, the handsome, young engineer she met at a New Year's Eve party hosted by Larry’s aunt Lois. She and Larry raised four daughters, Debra, Jayna, Dixie, and Ruth Ann, in their home on Ancliff Street in Blythefield Acres.
She had a life-long faith in Christ, the power of positive thinking, and health foods. If ever a negative word was uttered in her presence, she would pleasantly respond with “cancel, cancel.” She was a very strict mother with her first daughter Debra Lynn (once smashing a record of “Louie Louie," finding it objectionable) and almost completely indifferent to the activities of her youngest, Ruth Ann, born 18 years later. The middle daughters, Jayna Ruth and Dixie Ann, fared somewhere in between. She was a gifted homemaker who could sew, cook and clean with the best of them, but was most passionate about public service.
Her Scandinavian heritage meant a lot to her, as did her family’s roots in Stonington on Little Bay du Noc in the Upper Peninsula. Christmas always included ebelskivers prepared in the special pan handed down from her Norwegian grandmother. As a young woman, Carolyn worked as a switchboard operator for Bell Telephone and as a secretary at Helms Products, the company that produced “Helmscenes” – backlight, framed, and very tacky nature scenes popular in the 1960's.
As a working mom, she served as secretary at North Kent Presbyterian Church and later as the bookkeeper for her son-in-law’s orthodontics practice. She was a Shaklee distributor for many years, and successfully earned her family two Mercury Cougar XR7s and a trip to San Fransisco. She belonged to many church families over the course of her life, including Unity Church, Bella Vista Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Berean Baptist and, at the end of her life, Oakhill Evangelical Presbyterian.
Her many years of political engagement saw her serve as a member of the Kent County Republican Executive Committee, a delegate to the Republican State Convention and a volunteer for countless political campaigns. She was active in the Gerald R. Ford Republican Women’s Club for many years and served as its President, as well as Vice-President of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan. She met and had her picture taken with most Republication presidents, candidates, and leaders from the 1980s through the 2000s – photos that she proudly hung in her office – including George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Charlton Heston, John McCain, and George W. Bush. As a Regent of the National Federation of Republican Women, she attended the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. That same year, she was named as a Republican Presidential Elector for Michigan and attended a formal tea at the White House hosted by First Lady Laura Bush. She was fiercely patriotic and spearheaded a program that placed a framed print of the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence in elementary schools. She was intellectually curious and a great reader. She loved learning new things, and when visiting tourist attractions or historical sites, she read every – single –word of every informative placard.
Carolyn was a cheerful and affirming mom that everyone wished was their mom, and she picked up many surrogate sons and daughters over the course of her life. Whatever blessings she enjoyed, she wanted to share. Carolyn’s world was one of daily blessings, miracles, and angelic intervention. She laughed readily, often until tears came to her eyes. She was known to mix up common expressions, which resulted in curious new sayings like “he’s got a marble loose” instead of “screw loose.” She was the champion of everyone who needed a champion; she would defend her family members like a pit bull; and she was gracious to those in need of grace.
In her last years, Carolyn developed dementia and was cared for by her beloved and devoted husband Larry, and after he passed away nearly a year ago, by her daughter Debra in her beautiful home on the Flat River. Despite her dementia, Carolyn always recognized her family; her Christian faith remained unshakeable; she was sweet, encouraging and affirming; and she was funny. In a way, her dementia stripped away her worldly concerns and revealed her truest self – a beautiful soul full of gratitude for life's many blessings. In her final days, she proclaimed that her most meaningful legacy was that she had four daughters, and "they all love each other." She will be greatly missed.
Carolyn was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Larry, and her brother, James Miller. Carolyn is survived by: her daughters and sons-in-law, Debra (Eric) Darling; Jayna Knowlton (fiancé, Ted Spruit); Dixie (Mark) Brieden; and Ruth Ann (David) Skidmore; her grandchildren, Allan MacIver; Larry MacIver; James Marshall (Katie) Ford; Camden (Selena) Brieden; Kylee (Kris) Kessler; Sam Brieden; Max (Rilee) Brieden; David Skidmore; and Anna Skidmore; her great-grandchildren, Mason and Annie Ford; Simon and Logan Brieden; Owyn Kessler; her sister, Eleanor Spring; and her nieces and nephews, Fred Spring; Laurie Spring; and Camala Robinette.
Family and friends are invited to celebrate her life on Saturday, January 6, 2024, at Oakhill Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Visitation will commence at 11 am with services following at noon.