With deep sadness, we mourn the passing of dear friend and colleague Carol Spellman, 1951-2017. Carol was a folklorist’s folklorist. The Oregon Folklife Network, the state of Oregon, and the entire field of folklore would be the poorer without Carol’s impressive body of work for the Oregon Folklife Program.
“All who knew Carol are invited by her family to honor her memory at a Celebration of Life/Irish Wake at The Evergreen, 618 SE Alder St, Portland on March 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.”
The UO Folklore community is very grateful for the Spellman family’s very generous designation of UO’s Folklore Program to receive donations in Carol’s memory.
“The Folklore Program at U of O has established a fund in Carol’s name to assist graduate students to work in the field that she loved so much. Donations may be made to the Carol B. Spellman Public Folklore Fund, Attn: Beth Magee, Folklore Program, 1287 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403.”
“Carol Beth Spellman passed away peacefully with her family by her side on January 26, 2017 due to complications from treatment for leukemia.
Born October 19, 1951 in Oakland, California to Edmund and Helen (Heber) Stone, Carol lived her early years in Hayward before the family moved to San Leandro.
Carol graduated early from San Leandro High School in 1969 to attend the University of California at Berkeley. She took time off in 1971 to chase her dreams by traveling around Europe for a few months with her dear childhood friend Martha Otte. It turned out to be an eventful trip because, towards the end of her stay, she met her future life partner, Kevin and began a transatlantic romance.
Upon her return to the U.S., Carol moved to Eugene to finish her bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon. Over the following six years, she and Kevin alternated time between Eugene and England, and she also graduated from the U of O with a degree in Anthropology.
Carol and Kevin were married in the U.K. in 1977 and immediately moved to Portland. She soon returned to school and earned a Master’s in Education from Portland State University. Having developed a new passion for teaching, she worked at elementary schools in the North Clackamas District where she excelled and inspired students in both special education and gifted programs.
In 1984, Carol discovered her real vocation as a mother when Matthew was born. He was joined in 1989 by Catherine (Katie) and the family unit was complete. Carol was truly the most devoted mother and brought her passion and creativity to the job. There was never a dull moment in the Spellman household while the kids were being raised, and both childhoods were rich with laughter, fun, music, and kindness. Both Matt and Katie were blessed with the strongest friendship and bond with their mother.
Carol’s life changed again in 1998 when she was diagnosed with both Hodgkin’s disease and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This was followed by almost 20 years of intermittent medical challenges yet, until the end, she always beat even the toughest odds.
Determined not to be defined by her disease, though, Carol forged a whole new life plan. She commuted to Eugene for two years and earned a second Master’s degree, this time through the U of O Folklore Program, focusing on documentary video, ethnomusicology, and Irish folklore. Carol traveled to Ireland during 2000 and 2001 where she conducted fieldwork on the topic of Irish women’s contribution to traditional song and music. Her work culminated in a documentary video and Master’s thesis entitled For the Love of the Tune: Irish Women and Traditional Music. (https://vimeo.com/201286239)”
Carol then joined the Oregon Folklife Program at Oregon Historical Society as Folklife Education Coordinator, teaching K-12 students about folklife topics. She immersed herself in work with traditional artists, teaching video production in schools, and recording traditional arts and skills throughout Oregon. Carol coordinated a roster of over 40 artists from diverse cultures across Oregon, scheduling these artists for workshops, residencies and performances in schools throughout the state. She also made many new friends through work with the American Folklife Society and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. She had found her true calling.
Those who knew Carol found her to be larger than life with a vibrant personality and an intense curiosity about people and their culture. Her passion extended beyond her family and work to ceramics, Irish dance and music, Zydeco dance and music, volunteering in schools, travel (especially to Ireland), playing soccer, learning Spanish and French, and art of many and varied kinds.
In 2009, a new phase of her life began when she acquired her beloved Kiger mustang, Tesoro (Spanish for “Treasure”). Carol developed a whole new community at the Two’s A Team barn and enjoyed many trail rides, cowboy and western dressage competitions (several ribbons earned) and just enjoying her deep emotional connection with Tesoro.
Carol overcame numerous medical challenges over the years and was appreciative of the chance at a stem cell transplant (thanks to 22-‐year-‐old donor) in August 2016. The early post-‐transplant signs were very positive but she learned in January that her cancer was back and more virulent than ever. She was admitted to OHSU for intense chemotherapy but complications overwhelmed her. Her spirit remained as strong as ever but her body could fight no longer.
Carol is survived by Kevin, her husband of 39 years, son Matt and his wife Jessica, daughter Katie and her French Bulldog, Pierre (Carol’s first “grandchild”), sister Deirdre and husband David, ten nieces and nephews and their families, and many, many dear friends.
All who knew Carol are invited by her family to honor her memory at a Celebration of Life/Irish Wake at The Evergreen, 618 SE Alder St, Portland on March 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.
The Folklore Program at U of O has established a fund in Carol’s name to assist graduate students to work in the field that she loved so much. Donations may be made to the Carol B. Spellman Public Folklore Fund, Attn: Beth Magee, Folklore Program, 1287 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403.”