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Carol Ann Ayer Swanson

Posted on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 5:26 pm

Carol Ann Ayer Swanson died February 27, 2024, at her home in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, a place where the turtles nest, the weather is kind, and sunsets end with a green flash.

Carol was born June 11, 1955, the daughter of Gerald and Catherine Ayer, and little sister to Rhonda Catherine Ayer. Carol was raised in Centralia, Mo., living in the same little white house until she married. Carol & Rhonda had a very close sister & friend relationship all her life. Carol was lucky to live down the street and around the corner from both sets of grandparents. Carol carried many memories of time spent with them, as well as sleepovers with her cousins who she remained close to all her life.

Carol was a graduate of Centralia High School, Class of 1973. She was a cheerleader, played the flute in the marching band, and was in the Top Ten of her graduating class. Carol made lasting friends growing up and those friends were friends for life.

After high school, Carol went to work for State Farm Insurance in Columbia Mo. While working there, Carol attended night school, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Columbia College with a BA in business. Carol was employed with State Farm for 42 years, retiring in 2015, as a Commercial Underwriter in St. Louis. Carol was a well-respected co-worker, travel companion and devoted friend to so many she worked with.

Carol met her husband, Mark, in high school; he was tall and handsome, and she was blonde and beautiful. They were married August 28, 1976, in Centralia, Mo., in the very church where Carol was baptized. The couple took many road trips, first in their old hippy van and later in their RV. They traveled in Europe and took Blues Cruises. For many years the couple had a cabin at the Lake of the Ozarks with Marlene and Keith. Later the couple bought a condo at Indian Rocks Beach in Florida. Carol found peace near the ocean, walking the beach, and being  part of the eclectic circle of Florida  friends who look after one another.

Travel was important in Carol’s life. She took many trips to see family in the states and Europe, wherever they lived. She traveled to be a part of their big events and made an effort to be there often. Her overseas adventures started with a trip to Europe with a 94th Infantry reunion in 1973. The trip included places her father had served. Carol continued attending his Army reunions with his World War II buddies from H Company, 94th Infantry of Patton’s 3rd Army.  Carol sought out the stories the old soldiers told and was a favorite at their many reunions.

Carol’s overseas trips included Italy, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, England, Scotland and other European destinations. Carol chased history, she took the road less traveled, and every suitcase was packed with a purpose. She took trips with girlfriends and helped chaperone high school trips. All these trips produced fascinating stories and special memories.

When you went anywhere with Carol, you never knew where you would end up. It could be a dive bar, a juke joint, or a back door restaurant with uncommon fare. She chose to stay in huts and hovels and hotels that screamed of history. She questioned waiters about their menus, she quizzed bartenders about their drinks, and she talked to strangers to get the scoop on the happening places she needed to be. Carol called ahead, she made reservations, and always had a backup plan if the real plan fell through. Her choices were sometimes sketchy, her plans sometimes questionable, but always with Carol, you had an adventure you would remember.

Carol was an avid concertgoer and every concert ended with a great story. The Grateful Dead, BB King, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, and so many, many more. Her concert ticket stub collection is like a walk through her life. Carol would’ve told you; electronic tickets have ruined the world.

She was also a collector of things. Artwork with a story, furniture from the past, and a pair of funky purple shoes that still fit. Carol’s things were not random. She collected local artists and auction finds from old houses in old neighborhoods. She bought for a reason, she bought with a purpose. Her home was as interesting as she was.

Carol was a devoted pet owner to Miss Kitty and Salem, but she especially loved her many dachshunds she had throughout her life: Ezra, Winston, Amos, Walter and Wendell. Carol always and only had a dachshund.

One of Carol’s gifts was her ability to bring people together. She coordinated Sunday dinners, planned the friend’s reunion, and called everyone to make sure they were coming. She didn’t wait for holidays to get together. She didn’t wait for birthdays to send a card. She didn’t wait for you to call her, she called you. Carol filled her calendar with friends and family, and always had something to look forward to. Carol knew when and with whom to discuss politics or voice her views on the world, more importantly, she simply wanted to know about you; how you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. She remembered your mother, the names of your children, and genuinely cared where you were in life. She cultivated friendships and built bridges among family that kept everyone she loved close. She reached out, and made an effort to keep us all in her life.

On June 24, 2022, Carol was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her fight took her to many doctors, scans, plans, and treatments. She was a strong advocate for herself, looked beautiful in a turban, and did what she could to live her best life.

Carol is survived by her husband of 47 years, Mark, her beloved sister, Rhonda Hutchens, and brother-in-law, Ron. She will also be forever missed by nephew Matthew Cottrill, his wife Mistie, nephew Derek Hutchens, niece Deann Hutchens, great niece and nephew Payton and Ben Cottrill. Brother-in-law Marvin Swanson, his wife Sandra and their families, Dennis Swanson, wife Sweetie, Amisha, Ethan, and Rylen. David Swanson, wife Adrea, Alexa, Camden, and Jase. Also, her spoiled dachshund, Wendell, and many grieving friends.

She was proceeded in death by her parents, Gerald and Catherine Ayer, grandparents, Hugh and Barbara Ayer, Chesta and Mary Lou Vance. Also, her much loved cousin, Sallie Truesdell Blakemore and husband Mark Blakemore, and brother-in-law, Irvin Cottrill.

Carol followed the phases of the moon and was fascinated by the stars, constellations, and where the space station would be at any given minute. She was always looking up, especially when the night was clear and the stars the brightest. Carol will forever and always be one of those shining stars.

A special thanks to Lorry Myers for the beautiful obituary tribute and Derrick and Memoree Bradley for all of your help.

Memorials may be sent in her memory to the places and causes she believed in: The Centralia Avenue of Flags, First Christian Church of Centralia, St. Louis Zoo, or the Centralia Public Schools Foundation, in care of Fenton-Kendricks Funeral Home, 104 S Collier St., Centralia Mo, 65240.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.