A visionary leader, a devoted educator, an accomplished painter, a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. These are the traits that embodied the beautiful soul of Carol Appleton, former First Lady of the University of Redlands who sadly passed away on Jan. 13, 2023 at the age of 85. Family, friends, faculty, and students gathered at First Presbyterian Church on Redlands Boulevard to celebrate Appleton’s life and share fond memories they have with her. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Jim Appleton; her three adult children, Steven James Appleton, and Jennifer Appleton Gootman; her sisters Sharon Mason and Merry Jane Orwig, as well as their extended families and children.
Carol and Jim Appleton married in 1959 after she obtained her degree in Art Education from Wheaton College in Illinois. They were soulmates for life, evolving and maturing together in every aspect of their shared lives. “It was always clear they were a packaged deal,” University President Krista Newkirk said.
In 1987, Jim Appleton began his tenure as president and chancellor of the University of Redlands, with Carol Appleton as First Lady. For 25 years, they made undeniable impacts on the university community and Redlands as a whole. “Carol’s enthusiasm for the U of R was visible,” Jim Appleton said. “Her willingness to engage in its progress was very impressive and contagious.”
One of Carol Appleton’s many talents was as a virtuosic painter. Through her eyes, the world was a kaleidoscope of possibilities waiting to be realized on a blank canvas. Sunlight and silhouettes came alive under her deft brushstrokes. Buildings and villages from places like San Pedro, California to the Greek Isles became endless sources of inspiration.
“Carol’s paintings revealed subtleties, surprising textures, necessary shadows from the light I simply missed,” recalled professor and dear friend William McDonald.
This passion for art extended to her education, often teaching art at the university’s Salzburg campus wherein students under her wing prospered. From patiently explaining how to draw simple lines to overseeing the growth of beginning artists into truly exceptional ones, she lived to bring out the best in everyone she taught. “Carol brought out an ability that moved us all. She enabled these students to put on paper what their hearts and their souls saw and felt,” said Chaplain John Walsh. “She had spent a lifetime helping us to see beauty and love all around us.”
Carol Appleton was devoted to and adored her family, immediate and extended. Her sisters, children, and grandchildren, even when going separate ways in life, were never beyond the love and support she gave unconditionally. Each of her grandchildren shared the ways in which she encouraged and nurtured them when they needed it, how she supported their own artistic endeavors and offered them her generous council. “I can no longer feel her presence, but I can still feel her spirit, perhaps more freely than ever before,” said Jakob Appleton.
Carol Appleton lived a life full of artistry and love. In doing so, she has left an unforgettable legacy and her memory will be cherished forever in all those who were touched by her generous spirit. It is one that will long be missed.