March 14, 1938- February 28, 2019
On Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother and friend Carol Leone (Downing) Towl of Okemos, Michigan died in Atlanta at age 80.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2019, at 11 a.m. at Lake Oconee Lutheran Church, 1089 Lake Oconee Parkway, Eatonton, with Pastor Steven Hayden officiating. A second memorial service will be held on Sunday, April 7, 2019, at 3 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church, 4515 Dobie Road, Okemos, Michigan with Pastor Ellen Schoepf officiating. Carol will be cremated and interred at Castalia Cemetery in Castalia, OH.
“Oma,” as she was known to her grandchildren, was born March 14, 1938, in Sandusky, Ohio to Charles Edward and Leona (Gysan) Downing. Carol grew up in Castalia, Ohio, graduating from Margaretta High School in 1956. Carol attended Capital University in Columbus, Ohio where she received a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science. She also attended (Case) Western Reserve University and earned a master’s degree in education from Michigan State University. In 1963, Carol traveled to Japan to teach mathematics for the Department of Defense at Misawa Air Base. It was here that she met her first husband, Theodore (Ted) Wirsing Towl. Carol and Ted returned to the States, marrying in 1964. They moved to Alexandria, Louisiana for a short time, and then settled in Haslett, Michigan.
Carol’s passion was caring for and spending time with her family and friends. She was the center of her family, lovingly raising three sons: Theodore Clinton (Clint), Dean Charles, and Christopher Alan. She was known to all as a humorous and modest person who was full of compassion, always putting others first.
Carol was also a dedicated servant of Christ Jesus her entire life, sharing her joy in the Lord with everyone she knew. She was a long-time member of Faith Lutheran Church in Okemos, Michigan and recently became a member of Lake Oconee Lutheran Church. She performed many committee and church school duties at Faith. She will be remembered for her love of music and how she shared her musical gifts through both the church and bell choirs. Carol was also a lifelong piano player. She could often be found at local concerts or performances with friends.
Carol served the community as a teacher in Ohio and the mid-Michigan area, teaching math and, later, computer skills. She lovingly focused on her family for many years, eventually returning to work at the Capital Quality Initiative of Lansing Community College. She was also very active with Community Volunteers for International Programs at Michigan State University for many years, leading the International Speak (I SPEAK) program, introducing the university’s international students to many organizations and schools in the Lansing area. She was awarded the Homer Higbee International Education Award in 2013 for her service. She was also active in the Zonta Club of Greater Lansing and her home owner’s association.
In a beautiful story of reinvented lives, Carol remarried in 2018 to Harold M. Sollenberger of Okemos, Michigan. Harold, a long-time family friend at Faith, lost his wife of 53 years, Lois, in 2017. Carol and Harold were both graciously welcomed into a wonderful new blended family. On Feb. 13, while at their winter home on Lake Oconee, she suffered a brain aneurysm. She was peacefully and lovingly accepted into the Lord’s hands with all of her sons and Harold at her side on Feb. 28. Carol was preceded in death by her parents and in 2009 by her brother Charles Edwin Downing.
Carol is survived by her husband Harold, former husband Ted, her three sons and four grandchildren: Nicholas (16) and Haley (13), children of Christopher and Regina (Laramee) Towl of Okemos, Michigan; Mia (14), daughter of Dean and Lyssa Gwendolyn (Whiren) Towl of Denver, Colorado; Andrew (2), son of Theodore Clinton and Rungruedi “Annie” (Khotwong) Towl of Pattaya, Thailand; Carol is also survived by four step-grandchildren through her blended family: Amick (17) daughter of Kristin Sollenberger and Daniel Stupar of Wakefield, RI; Emma (19), Brennan (17) and Gavin (15), children of Alan and Stacy Sollenberger of Marietta.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Faith Lutheran Church, 4515 Dobie Road, Okemos, MI 48864.
Bernstein Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.