Carol Jean Tillitt died peacefully at Grand Arbor, Alexandria, on September 19, 2022, at the age of 90. Carol was born on August 5, 1932, on a farm in Martin County, MN, to Newt and Celia Aagard. She joined brother Roger and was followed by their siblings Robert, Juanita, Ruth, and Glady. The family moved to their own farm near Dunnell, MN, in 1936.
From her mother, Carol learned to work hard, care for others, plant and harvest a garden, feed a crowd, clean up afterward, and show hospitality to everyone. From her father, Carol learned an appreciation for the outdoors, good books, and community service. From both her parents, she learned to love the Lord and to really stretch a dime.
Carol left the farm after graduation from Sherburn High School in 1950 and entered Swedish Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis, graduating in 1953. During nursing school, Carol met Ralph Tillitt, who at the time was dating her roommate. Some months later, the two crossed paths at the University of Minnesota -- or, to be accurate, Carol's path took her near Ralph's ladder, where he was washing windows as a student worker. A voice from above, saying "Carol! Carol!" caught her attention. Their friendship bloomed, and some time later, Ralph proposed at the State Fair. A 63-year marriage began on December 27, 1953.
Carol worked for the U of M Hospital, keeping the couple's finances afloat, while Ralph completed law school. In 1956, the couple moved to Alexandria, where Ralph joined John McCarten in a law practice. Carol & Ralph welcomed son Ralph Stephen shortly after, and daughters Sally Jean, Jennifer Lee, and Suzanne Kari completed the family.
Carol put the lessons from her childhood to good use in her nursing, her parenting, and her many service activities. After her children were (mostly) launched, she returned to work at Douglas County Hospital, primarily on the Medical unit, where her excellent nursing skills were much appreciated. After retirement from the hospital, she also worked part time as a nurse/health care coach for ITW Heartland in Alexandria.
Carol was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church for 66 years and was active in Church Circle, Lutheran Church Women (LCW), Sunday and Vacation Bible School, and Release Time teaching. She made many meatballs and batches of lefse for Calvary's Smorgasbord and Lutefisk Suppers.
In addition to church activities, Carol volunteered in many community organizations. Using her nursing skills, she volunteered at Douglas County Hospice and served at countless Red Cross blood drives. She used her creative skills at the Alexandria Area Arts Association (now Andria Theatre), sewing & altering costumes, gathering props, and painting sets. Carol was a Girl Scout leader, a Jr. Great Books teacher, a Meals On Wheels driver, a member of Mrs. Jaycees, and a board member for United Way and for Thrivent. She was a member of Theatre Le Homme Dieu League and enjoyed attending concerts and theatre productions all of her adult life.
Carol was a member of the Belles Lettres Study Club for over 60 years and found much enjoyment in the many friendships and topics of study. She joined Chapter AO of P.E.O. some years later and dearly loved her chapter sisters. She and Ralph belonged to a couple's bridge club that met for over 50 years and brought them lifetime friendships. Ralph's barbershop quartet members and their spouses had a huge role in Ralph & Carol's life, as well.
In addition to these many activities, Carol was an excellent cook who set a lovely table and graciously hosted friends, neighbors, relatives, and many others, including her children's friends. Carol was a beloved aunt to her many nieces and nephews, and her relationships with them were a joy and a blessing.
Carol loved to spend time in the yard at their lake home, growing flowers, weeding and trimming, and planting, tending, harvesting, & canning the produce from a large garden. She was known to pull weeds in many a public space, just to make things look better.
Carol was a skilled seamstress who made numerous clothing items, including prom dresses, bridesmaid & flower girl dresses, and quilts. She belonged to a doll club and found pleasure in sewing outfits and accessories for her collectible dolls and for the dolls of her daughters and granddaughters.
Carol's family was primarily Danish & German, but Ralph was enthusiastic about his Norwegian heritage, so she was introduced to rosemaling, a Norwegian style of decorative painting. She took classes and enjoyed beautifying many items with traditional rosemaling. Watercolor painting, cross stitching, embroidery, knitting, and crocheting were some of her many creative hobbies.
Carol and Ralph enjoyed traveling and learning about other parts of our country and the world. They welcomed their foreign exchange student, Buket Ozturk, who came from Cyprus to spend a year in Alexandria. Some years later, they took a very special trip to visit Buket in Istanbul.
Carol is survived by her children, Ralph Stephen Tillitt, Sally (Brenton) Smith, Jennifer (Jay) Peloquin, and Suzanne (Perry) Peloquin; grandchildren Andrea (Andrew) Drazkowski, Maureen (Evan) Eigen, Valerie (Charlie) Warnes, Reid (Sarah) Peloquin, Dane Peloquin, Celia Peloquin, Riley Tillitt, Sadie Peloquin, and Bennet Peloquin; great-grandchildren Evelyn, Erik, & Estella Eigen, Elijah, Gabriel & Abigail Warnes, Landon Tillitt-Schulz, and Fiona Peloquin; AFS exchange daughter Buket (Ismail) Ozturk Ayoglu, brother Roger (Kay) Aagard, sisters Juanita (David) Moe and Ruth Kinney, and many beloved nieces and nephews. Carol was preceded in death by her husband Ralph Tillitt, brother Robert Aagard, sister Glady Laughlin, and grandson Max Tillitt.
A Celebration of Life will take place at 11am on Saturday, October 15 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria.
Visitation will be held on Friday, October 14, from 4 to 6pm at Anderson Funeral Home and will continue one hour before the service at the church.
A livestream of the service will be available on andersonfuneral.net.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Knute Nelson Foundation/Memory Care, Elder Network, or the Andria Theatre.