Carolyn Cary, a Fayette historical treasure

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Carolyn Cary, Fayette County historian and longtime writer for The Citizen. Photo/Submitted.
Carolyn Cary, Fayette County historian and longtime writer for The Citizen. Photo/Submitted.

[Editor’s note: Carolyn Cary, a longtime columnist and editorial contributor to The Citizen, died Monday in Fayetteville after a short illness. Her obituary is here.]

If you’re a longtime reader of this newspaper, Carolyn Cary was a regular presence on these pages. In addition to telling stories of her life, a journey that took her from a childhood in Ohio to raising a family in a blossoming Fayette County, she shared the history of the area, a place she loved as if it were hometown.

If you were lucky enough to be someone she considered a friend, meaning if she ever met or spoke to you, she became Auntie Carolyn. She always asked after you and yours and was happy to share nuggets of news that she knew you would find interesting. Chances are, she probably saw something in one of the many newspapers she read and cut the article out to give to you the next time she saw you.

When I was a cub reporter at The Citizen, she was one of many people who took me under her wing and introduced me to the county. We drove by historical markers and she told me the tales of the men and women who built Fayette County.

One afternoon we dropped in on a farmer who had once played baseball in the major leagues. Cecil Travis was a graduate of Fayette County High School. He was also the second best hitter in the majors the year that Ted Williams hit over .400 and Joe DiMaggio had his amazing hit streak.

Cecil signed a baseball for me and it is a cherished part of my collection. The memory of that meeting is even more cherished because Carolyn connected me with the history of the county and the nation.

Carolyn passed away on Monday morning and current and former members of The Citizen, along with much of Fayette County, are in mourning. Chances are we are all probably smiling too, because Carolyn gave us all decades of incredible moments and memories.

Somewhere in this very paper is probably the obituary she has been writing and tweaking since before I met her over 20 years ago. When everyone gathers this week to celebrate her life, there will be laughter behind our tears.

We will think about the lunches we shared with her at Waffle House or Longbranch and remember her being unafraid to share her opinions with anyone in the room, whether they asked for it or not.

Carolyn was passionate about Fayette County. She adopted the area as her adopted hometown and the county adopted her as well, crowning her as one of its own.

Carolyn Cary is like a character in a great novel, one who spoke to readers through her own words for years. We were fortunate that she filled the pages of this paper with her tales and equally as fortunate that she filled Fayette County with her heart.

[Michael Boylan is a communications specialist for Piedmont Fayette Hospital in Fayetteville. He was sports editor of The Citizen for 14 years.]