TRAVERSE CITY — Carol Ann O’Harra, 74, of Traverse City, passed away Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, in Traverse City. Carol was born July 18, 1939, in Muncie, Ind., the daughter of John C. O’Harra Jr. and Betty Ludington O’Harra.
She graduated from Burris High School, Muncie, Ind., and DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind.
Afterward, Carol taught school in Indianapolis and Boulder, Colo. She was a cherished member of the sisterhood of Kappa Kappa Gamma, was a past member of the Fort Wayne Junior League, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Old Mission Women’s Club of Traverse City.
To sum Carol up here is impossible, as she was larger than life.
As a daughter, mother, sister, cousin, aunt and friend to all, Carol shared the loving wisdom of her positive nature and generous spirit. She made us all better, helping us when we were hurting or needing to talk. “Live in today and don’t go too far ahead,” was her motto. She recalled the past to her children and spoke of future dreams as well. Above all, Carol was a happy, forgiving person and is affectionately remembered by her friends and family as compassionate and loving.
She was an avid reader, a lover of music and enjoyed living in her home along the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan’s West Bay on Old Mission Peninsula.
She will be remembered for her wisdom and generous spirit cultivated from her own life experiences. Those close to her often sought out her guidance, encouragement and strength. We will always carry with us her sense of humor, the infamous “Carolisms,” her infectious laugh and her passion for life. She was a beautiful woman, even feature-published in the Ladies Home Journal in 1973.
Her husband, Jim Suelzer, amazed her with his unique wit, humor and outlook on reality.
Carol treasured her four children, Anne, Jon, Laura and Sarah, never losing sight of them. They adored her as well. She cherished memories of her late grandparents and parents, Kelly and Betty, and deeply loved her siblings, Dave and Nancy. Indeed, Carol “came from good (Irish!) stock.”
Carol overcame much adversity in her life, gathering wisdom, strength and hope. She had a tender-loving, forgiving spirit.
Her AA sobriety birthday of May 1, 1978, gave her a second chance for the years to follow. Carol counseled many who were challenged by alcoholism and addiction. She was a true survivor, an amazing example to all who knew her and will be sorely missed. Such a person is irreplaceable, and this loss is a great one for all. She fully lived Reinhold Niebuhr’s “The Serenity Prayer,” one day at a time, even one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it and trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will and that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Carol was preceded in death by her parents, John C. O’Harra Jr. and Betty A. (Ludington) O’Harra; two former husbands, Jon. B. Gerster, whom she married in 1961, and in 1983 to James R. Suelzer; and Tigger, her beloved four-legged “son.” And we can’t forget “Irish” - a found and adopted Irish Setter mix from Walloon Lake, a beloved member of the family, and “Queenie,” her childhood horse.
Carol is survived by her four children, Elizabeth A. Dupre, of Dover, N.H., Jon B. Gerster Jr., of Seattle, Wash., Laura A. (Joseph) Kochajda, of Auburn Hills, and Sarah A. (David) Bochenek, of Ann Arbor; brother, David C. O’Harra (Jacki), of Jacksonville, Fla.; sister, Nancy O’Harra Lohman (Robert), of Fort Worth, Texas; nephews, Michael C. O’Harra (Cristy), Eric H. Lohman (Beth) and Robert C. Lohman (Jennifer); niece, Kimberly O’Harra Marsh (Gene); two grandchildren, Alicia E. Dupre and Jonathan V. Kochajda; as well as cousins, Steven L. Hammer and James Andrew Hammer; and numerous adoring friends and extended family.
As mom would not like to say “Good Bye” - but rather, “Till next time.” We love you so much and will see you again.
A celebration of Carol’s life and internment in Beechwood Cemetery, Leland, will be held June 21, 2014. She will “live” next to the love of her life, Jim Suelzer.
Memorials for Carol may be directed to the Old Mission Women’s Club, a non-profit organization serving the needs of the community, in which she was a member, c/o the Carol O’Harra Fund, PO Box 23, Old Mission, MI 49673. She loved the membership and their volunteer spirit.
Please share memories with Carol’s family online at www.martinson.info.
Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home of Suttons Bay.