Carol Jean Pickering, 84, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, on February 13, 2023, after a long and courageous battle with an undiagnosed condition.
Carol was born in Columbia, MO, on February 26, 1938, to Harold and Jean (Frantz) Williams. She graduated in 1956 from Northeast High School in Kansas City, MO. On May 26, 1957, she married James C. Pickering, Supply Officer, US Navy. Carol supported Jim’s military career, not only during his five years of active duty but throughout his entire 20 years of military service.
Carol received her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Education from UMKC in 1972. She taught junior high math in the KCMO School District from 1972-1976.
She received her Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1977 and then joined AT&T Technologies as an Industrial and Quality Control Engineer until 1987.
From 1987-1992 she was a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker/J.D. Reece. In 1992 she started working for her then son-in-law as a Controller for his manufacturing company. Of all her professional endeavors, this was her favorite position. Carol had been interested in accounting since junior college and was so happy to spend the last four years of her professional career doing the job she enjoyed most.
As they were raising their children, Jim coached Raytown Little League football, basketball, and baseball for nearly a decade. All that time, Carol was by his side as the official scorekeeper.
When the days of Little League wound down, Jim and Carol built a house at the Lake of the Ozarks. The next two decades were filled with water skiing, boating, jet skiing, fishing, late night talks, and creating lifelong memories.
In the early 1980’s, Jim and Carol took the family on their first ski trip. This was the start of a new family tradition that continues to this day. Some of Carol’s favorite moments were skiing with her husband, children and grandchildren in Steamboat Springs, CO.
Just as Carol once treated her little brothers and sister like her children before she had her own, she continued being maternal all her life. She remembered everyone’s birthday-usually with the card arriving on the day.
Christened as Boo when the grandchildren were toddlers, Carol quickly embraced the name that characterized being a grandmother. This role as Boo was her greatest joy during retirement.
Her favorite hobby was photography. Whether it was a grandchild’s event, a 4th of July celebration at her son’s, the Halloween birthday celebrations at her daughter’s which brought Carol’s nephews back from college to continue the tradition long after one would think it had been outgrown, a simple family dinner, a snow skiing or Disneyworld vacation, or one of Jim’s band concerts or competitions, a camera was always nearby.
Through photography, she chronicled her life with Jim, her children, grandchildren, and extended family. There were many years where she created an annual photo album, tailored to each child and his/her family. She would give these personalized photo albums to her children each Christmas.
Carol’s gifting of photographs did not end with her family. You could find Carol taking pictures at Jim’s band concerts while also handing out pictures she had taken at previous performances. She always wanted to contribute to the happiness and the memories of others.
The family recently discovered a box of envelopes, filled with photos, all with dates and names. Carol’s mystery illness started years ago, yet her desire to continue photo gifting continued. The family hopes to get these photos to those named in the near future.
Carol never stopped fighting. She never complained even though her pain was excruciating. Even at the end she said, “Your father and I have been very fortunate.” Through her, we know what grace, determination and resilience truly look like.
Carol was preceded in death by her parents, Jean and Harold Williams; brother Philip Williams; brother-in-law Gregg Stock; brother-in-law Ken Schillo; nephews Kevin Corley and Greg Corley.
She is survived by: James C. Pickering, her husband, of 65 years. Children Chris Pickering and wife Kathy; Tim Pickering and partner Cheryl Foster; Michelle Illig. Grandchildren Nathan Pickering and wife Kelli; Grant Illig and Katy Doll; Aubrey (Illig) Schmidt and husband Justin; Hunter Pickering; Alex (Foster) Ayala and husband Oscar; Taylor Foster; Patrick Foster and wife Faith; Michael Foster. Great Grandchildren Arielle and Savannah Schmidt; Ella and Averie Pickering; Luca Ayala. Siblings Joy Corley Case and husband Ed; Jane Stock; Sister in law-Ortella Williams; Richard Williams. Nephews Jeff Corley; Benjamin Stock; Michael Stock and wife, Caitlin; Sean Williams. Niece Angela Williams. Great nephew Masen Williams. Great niece Marlena Stock. A special thank you to Carol’s current care team of Michelle Puls, Megan Puls and little helpmate Ella Hunter who brought weekly cheer to Carol, Roxana McClanahan and previous caregivers, Tabitha McCluskey, Divya Pothuri, Kelsey Puls, and Olivia Wagner.
A memorial service to celebrate her life will be 2:00pm Friday March 3rd, at the Johnson County Funeral Chapel, 11200 Metcalf Ave. Memorials may be made to Johnson County Parks and Recreation in care of Johnson County Funeral Chapel. All contributions will go towards a park bench in Carol’s memory, placed where she photographed the Overland Park Civic Band’s summer concerts.