I lost a dear friend when Carolyn McLeod died. It was a friendship that blossomed over lunch. I used to go to Sumter once a week as a psychologist for Palmetto Health's Pastoral Counseling Center, and part of my weekly routine was to meet Carolyn and Ken for lunch. That tradition continued after I left Pastoral Counseling and became the minister of the UUCC. Before long, Carolyn and Ken became members, making the long trip over from Sumter nearly every Sunday, and on nearly every Sunday they came to Columbia, we would go out to lunch, sometimes accompanied by a few others. We would discuss the sermon, religion, secular politics, church politics, our respective personal histories, family and friend relations, and some mostly innocent gossip. Carolyn was a close confidante, a wise teacher, and a surrogate mother (even grown men need a mother).
She was also a dedicated member of our congregation, who gave generously of her time and resources to the place which had become what she called her spiritual home. Having grown up in the traditional church, Carolyn said it was a relief and an inspiration to belong to a group of kindred spirits who encouraged her to be true to her best thoughts and highest ideals. She continued making that trek from Sumter as often as she could until cancer forced her to stay home. Her last gift to us was a donation to construct a Memorial Garden. Unfortunately, she didn't live long enough to see its brick walls, but she was delighted to know that construction was underway.
An ad hoc committee has composed policies and procedures for our Memorial Garden (see below). Thank you, Ann Johnson, for chairing this committee of Barry Ahrendt, Tony Ganong of the Funeral Consumer Alliance, Betsy Kaemmerlen, Mike Paget, and Erica Patterson. It will be a few more months before the Garden is completed and ready to receive cremains. The first will be those of Carolyn McLeod.