Carol Lynn (Porter) Ward of Lincoln, NB, died on August 11, 2023, after a battle with cancer. Never one to give up easily and as strong – willed as they come, Carol told her family to “be strong” when sharing her diagnosis and she led, as usual, by example throughout this difficult journey.
We all counted on Carol to be our “cheerleader” and leader in everything. If you have ever been the recipient of a card for a special occasion or a thank you note written by her, you would know the words inside contained a message about how special and wonderful you are. The message would be even more meaningful if she read it aloud in her teacher voice she used occasionally. We are grateful for her words, and she left us knowing how amazing she was as a mother, grandmother, teacher, principal, sister, friend and aunt.
Carol Lynn Porter was born August 4th, 1949, in Ottawa as the youngest child of the late Victor and Dorothy (Dot) Porter. She grew up as a sister to Gail Drummond and Gary Porter (Sylvia), along with special sister, Brenda MacDonald (Bryan). As the youngest, from the very start, she brought joy, fun and laughter into the family, even though there were times when she may have used her “special youngest sibling” status to her advantage through the years. To this day, we are still laughing over the picture her Dad took of her crying over a lost game of Monopoly! What we learned from the stories in her early childhood is that it is okay to do what you want, and it is acceptable to have a competitive spirit (or at least only grumble a little bit if you lose). And above all, that she was the best sister anyone could wish to have.
Growing up in the military community, the Porter family spent time in Ottawa, Germany, Oromocto and eventually settled in Lincoln, NB. It was at OHS when Carol met Brian, whom she married in 1971. Once Brian and Carol settled in Lincoln, Carol started her teaching career at Lower Lincoln Elementary School. She loved being a teacher and students who had her in Grade 6 still have fond memories of being in her class. “Mrs. Ward” read aloud with much enthusiasm and anyone who had the honour of being in her class will fondly remember the whole class (including her) crying during the ending of “Where the Red Fern Grows” because she was a dog lover as well. Not an athlete herself, she coached floor hockey, track and field and baseball and brought student athletes from Lower Lincoln School to play against other schools to give them the opportunity to play sports outside of Lincoln. School spirit was important to her, and she loved watching students cheer for each other and for their school. She was an advocate for school sports and special events to highlight student talents and helped create memories for students in her schools.
Her love for learning was contagious, especially her love for words. She was a voracious reader, loved writing and never shied away from talking. After teaching for over 20 years, she obtained her Masters Degree in Education at UNB as she wanted to become an administrator. This is where her family saw her blossom as she loved writing essays, doing assignments and often signed up for any extra work she could. She loved being an educator and this meant sharing her knowledge, learning from others and talking about teaching. Learning about education was not her job, it was her passion. This love for learning planted a seed not only in her students, but also in her own children as they watched her demonstrate the value of working hard for something you love to do.
Carol eventually became Vice-Principal at Lower Lincoln School and then Principal for a few years. After leaving the school she loved after 25 years, she moved on to become Principal at Assiniboine Elementary School and then Ridgeview Middle School in Oromocto. She did not shy away from a challenge and loved every minute of her career. She was often found at the living room table on most Sunday nights writing notes of acknowledgement to her staff members. She was always one to share the positive but was never one to shy away from letting you know the truth if you needed to hear it! She was considered “funny” by many who knew her, and somehow found a way to connect with most people as she had a way of making people laugh. Many times, it was because she was very honest – a trait we all admire but cannot always get away with! She retired from School District 17 while she was in the role of Literacy Supervisor and left the profession doing what she loved – learning as much as she could about helping students achieve their potential, working alongside teachers and connecting to students.
While retired, Carol noticed her social calendar filling up quickly with the many Book clubs and social groups that had become available, and these groups seemed to multiply through the years. Thanks to the “Super 8 group” (you know who you are); “the Beauties (you know who you are); the “Golden Girls” (you know who you are) and the many different Book Clubs (we lost count of how many she was in and who was in each one). Your friendships meant so much. And let’s not forget the friends from “way back in the day” - Patsy and Jeannette. There are no words to describe the love she felt for you all and amazing times she had with all of you. You all had a special place and much gratitude to each of you for your thoughtful presence during this challenging time with the many treats, visits and encouraging words you shared with her.
She always loved her summers - paying special attention to dividing her time between camping trips with Brian around NB and the US along with the many pool parties she hosted. It took special planning to coordinate all the events on top of the many special trips in various parts of the world scheduled with her friends through the year. We often heard about the many conflict schedules between so many groups as the calendar was packed with special events and gatherings with family and friends. Carol lived a full life with her family and friends and demonstrated to her children the importance of good friendships and valuing time with family.
Once the grandchildren came along, the “special” treatment was dedicated primarily to each one of them and Brady, Luke, Jack and Lauren always felt the love in her presence. Nanny’s traditions of getting the grandkids together to make gifts for their parents will always be a fond memory. Crafts were not her strong suit, but she pulled out some great ideas for her “sweet faces” to make. Whatever they created didn’t matter as each one of them loved spending time with her (along with the sweet tooth she shared with them!) Although Nanny had a busy social calendar (see above), she always made time for the various extracurricular events her grandchildren were involved in. She would cut a Book Club discussion short (or make sure she talked first!) so she could make it to the hockey game. There was no way she was missing out on anything her own kids or her grandchildren did and she was undoubtedly her family’s biggest cheerleader. A few months ago, while recovering from her latest cancer treatment, she attended a wrestling meet and a wrestler on Brady’s team told her he wished he had someone cheering as loud for him as she did for Brady. Without hesitation, she cheered as loud as she could for him in his next match and he heard her from the sidelines.
It was not uncommon for us to hear from others the impact she made as an educator and we fully appreciate the impact she made on each one of us in her immediate family. Throughout her illness, we noticed Mom still worked to acknowledge the people around her – even while she wasn’t feeling great. She never stopped finding the positive in everyone and thanking people– it’s a legacy passed on to her children and grandchildren and we will work hard to demonstrate this in our daily lives as we learned from the best.
Carol is survived by her husband, Brian; her daughter Shannon Atherton (Mark) of Lincoln; her son Chris Ward (Christie) of Killarney; her four cherished grandchildren Brady and Luke Atherton and Jack and Lauren Ward; her sister Gail Drummond of Oromocto; her brother Gary Porter (Sylvia) of Kingston, Ont.; special sister, Brenda MacDonald (Bryan) of Fredericton; and many nieces and nephews. We cannot forget her dog, Gus, who among the many dogs she had through the years, she loved with a full heart.
Thank you to all the nurses at the DECH in 3SW and the entire staff at Hospice House. Your kindness and genuine caring were felt by all of us. Thank you as well to Dr. Ginn who connected with her and helped to highlight her positivity when things were tough.
As per her wishes, a private graveside ceremony will be held at Oromocto Pioneer Gardens Cemetery at a later date. For those who wish, memorial donations may be made to Hospice House or a charity of your choice.