Little Lady with a Big Heart: “Grateful for the Dance – Loved Life!”
If there’s a photo-op at the Pearly Gates, you can bet Carol Goward took full advantage of it as she transitioned from this world to the next. She would certainly have stopped to wave and smile down to those she loves—and who love her back. There are many who do:
First and foremost, Bud, the light of her life and her husband of 53 years; their three daughters: Jill Spearman, Tracey Beaulieu, and Danielle Huston; her sons-in-law: Mark, Paul, and Dan (Carol viewed them as sons her daughters picked for her); her grandsons: Jacy Parker, Quinn Spearman, Grady and Sebastian Beaulieu; her “sistahs,” brothers, their spouses and children: sisters Joanne Kelly, Cheryl Paul, Barbara Younie and her husband Steve, Gina Galasso and her husband Paul, Rhonda Nickley and her husband Joe, Gayle Ayoub and her husband Dimitri, brothers Paul Zoia, Greg Zoia and his wife June, Dean Zoia and his wife Christine; and her many nieces and nephews. Those waiting for her at the Pearly Gates most certainly included her brother the late Peter Zoia and her other two sisters, the late Janet Campbell and Beverly Gregory.
Carol left this world suddenly and much too soon after a brief illness. She was 74. On August 28th, we surrounded her hospital bed, thanked her for being in our lives, assured her we would be okay, and held her as she transitioned. If she had been able, she would have comforted us, but it was our turn to take care of her—and she had taught us well through living by example.
She had a natural curiosity that led to her natural ability to connect with and enjoy anyone she encountered. Perhaps she began developing those abilities on the day she entered this world. On December 7th, 1944, Carol “arrived” in Quincy, MA. At the time, she was Peter and Elaine Zoia’s third child. Eventually, there were thirteen siblings. There were three things necessary for thriving in the Zoia family: fending for yourself, helping each other, and loving football. Carol carried these characteristics with her into her adult life, and Bud was the perfect partner with whom to do so. Carol’s parents were legends in the North Quincy (MA) high school football program, and Bud fit right in as a high school football captain who was inducted into the North Quincy High School Athletic Hall of Fame. On their first date, at the age of 16, Carol and Bud knew they would be together forever (Al di la).
Seven short years later (1969), they had their own house in Brockton, MA and three daughters. Carol often said she “found her voice” when her daughters were born. She wanted to be the best mother she could be, and she was willing to do whatever it took to take care of her girls. That included learning to swim, which meant facing her fear of water. Doing so meant she could keep her girls safe and showed them that they can do anything they set their minds to. Clearly, her swimming accomplishment paid off, for it wasn’t long before Jill, Tracey, and Danielle were not only frolicking in the backyard pool Bud had designed and built, but doing flips of all kinds off the diving board and swimming like fish! Physical fitness and exercise were an important part of The Gowards’ lives. Over the years, Carol ran 5-K races and won 20 bench pressing trophies.
In the winters, Carol, Bud, and “The Girls” would travel to New Hampshire for ski weekends. Eventually, those trips became so numerous they decided to purchase a vacation home in the White Mountains. They fell in love with NH and in 1982 relocated to Bow.
Over the years, Carol became known as “Little Mommy,” “Mean Carol Jean,” and “The Love of Bud’s Life.” All of these nicknames are terms of endearment and testaments to Carol’s lightheartedness and self-effacing humor.
It’s no surprise so many people loved Mean Carol Jean. Her love of life was abundant. For decades, she and Bud logged hundreds of flights in their brightly colored powered parachute, soaring mainly over the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire, but also getting a bird’s eye view of Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Indiana, and even the Atlantic City Boardwalk of New Jersey. During that time, they built a network of “flying friends” that would last a lifetime. When that pastime ended in their golden years, Carol didn’t slow down. She picked up other hobbies like playing pickle ball and attending Zumba classes taught by her daughter Tracey. She and Bud attended nearly all of their grandsons’ sports games: football, baseball, basketball, wresting, track, and lacrosse—even if it meant traveling to Florida, where their grandson Quinn lives, to do so. Carol and Bud were always on the go, cheering on their grandchildren with pride. After each game, the grandsons were guaranteed to receive a fist-bump from Carol, as well as a mini Snickers bar.
Between games, Carol turned her attention to a host of activities, including the Bucket List she and Bud had created. They completed that list in June with a trip to Italy and had previously traveled to Hawaii and Alaska. Carol also followed her inspiration in the form of writing haikus and books, and she continued exercising daily, practicing meditation, and attending weekly Toastmasters meetings faithfully.
Friday mornings for the past 31 years were dedicated to those meetings at the Concord chapter of Toastmasters International, of which Carol was a charter member and past president. She made many lifelong friends there and cherished each and every moment of those meetings. Carol credited Toastmasters with helping her polish her writing and speaking skills, as well as set and achieve challenging goals. A noteworthy example is her goal to become a published author, which she gleefully and proudly achieved when one of her poems was published in the Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine.
Carol’s volunteer work included developing eight public speaking courses for home-school students and teaching those courses for several years, sometimes setting up a make-shift classroom on the ping pong table in their lower level. She participated in MS fundraiser walks, taught public speaking classes for non-native English speakers, and was a member of Kiwanis. She also played a clown in the Kiwanis Fair Parade—a role perfectly suited to her playful personality and athleticism.
Little Mommy’s zest for life and caring for others was also part of her professional experiences. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business at the age of 47 and graduated magna cum laude. For many years, she was a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and later switched careers to become the Director of Marketing at Havenwood-Heritage Heights Retirement Community in Concord. She loved the residents, and they loved her back.
Amidst it all, Carol also kept strong ties with her sisters, meeting annually at Lake Winnipesaukee for their “Sistahs Weekend” and maintaining family lists of birthdays, anniversaries, and addresses. She was an organizer who brought people together. Birthday parties won’t be the same without her missing the high C note at the end of “Happy Birthday” on her keyboard, which had the notes of the tune stuck to the keys. Patriots’ season also will lose a bit of muster without Mean Carol Jean’s family pool for Patriots’ games. And scratch ticket sales in New Hampshire may take a hit now that Carol has moved on to her next adventure and will no longer be providing those tickets to the winners of her legendary contests.
Friendship, laughter and joy were common themes with Carol, as her friends and family will attest. She often amazed others at how many people she knew in the Concord area when going out for even a simple errand, and her “Peace, Love and Joy!” message was sent thousands of times to friends and families over the years on greeting cards for all occasions. She had a genuine interest in others and was never afraid to spark up a conversation with someone she’d just met.
While it’s only natural for us to grieve the loss of such a special person, Carol wouldn’t want us to be sad for too long. She’d want us to live the most fulfilling lives we can: enjoying ourselves, making a difference in this world, laughing with and loving each other. Having had her presence in our lives makes it easier to do all of those things, for she still lives on in each of us, and every act of friendship, love, and kindness we commit will be a legacy to that little lady with the biggest heart.
If you ever feel the need to connect with Carol, consider simply looking up toward those Pearly Gates and waving. She’ll be waving back with a big smile on her face. No doubt, she’ll be there to greet all of us when it’s our turn for that photo-op, but she would be the first to tell you, “There’s no rush. I’ll wait.” She’s like that.
A celebration of Carol’s life will be held on Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 1:00pm at the Grappone Conference Center, 70 Constitution Ave, Concord. In Carol’s honor, please wear clothing as vibrant as her life.
In lieu of flowers, donations will be gratefully accepted at the Peter and Elaine Zoia Scholarship Fund, Quincy Municipal Credit Union, 100 Quincy Ave, Quincy, MA, 02170.
The Still Oaks Funeral & Memorial Home in Epsom is assisting the family with arrangements. To leave a memory or offer a condolence please visit www.stilloaks.com
To send flowers to Carol's family, please visit our floral section.
Peter and Elaine Zoia Scholarship Fund, Quincy Municipal Credit Union
100 Quincy Ave, Quincy MA 02170