Official Obituary of

Carolyn A. Rohde

March 27, 1936 ~ February 28, 2024 (age 87) 87 Years Old

Carolyn Rohde Obituary

Carolyn A. Rohde, 87, found her place among the angels on Wednesday, February 28, 2024 in Ripon, Wisconsin. A beloved and devoted mother, grandmother, and friend, she leaves behind countless loved ones whose lives were blessed by her goodness.

Carolyn was born the eldest of three children on March 27, 1936 to her loving parents Wilbur and Mabel Dresback. Born and raised in Clinton, Illinois, she eventually graduated from the local high school and went on to study at a nearby college, Illinois Wesleyan University.

On the most important night of her young life (at age 19), she walked into Ed & Jerry’s Bar for cigarettes with a friend… and walked out with the love of her life. Carolyn met Donald Rohde that night in December of 1955, and they married six months later. In a love-at-first-sight story for the ages, they were married for 56 years until Don preceded her in death in 2013.

Carolyn’s first job – at a shoe repair shop as a teenager – was her first foray into fashion. Every job she held thereafter contained some element of style or decor, but she spent the bulk of her midlife in her proudest role: Mom. Carolyn and Don became parents to two cherished children – Alan in 1959 and Anne in 1962 – and decided to move to Lombard, Illinois where they raised their beautiful family until they were grown.

After raising her children, Carolyn’s happiest days were spent enjoying retired life in her favorite place on Earth: the Cobbly Nob community of Gatlinberg, Tennessee, where she and Don eventually relocated for 23 years. This beautiful locale served as the backdrop for family gatherings and mountainside memories with friends, usually accompanied by her signature glass of Chardonnay with ice on the side.

Carolyn was not always sensible when it came to footwear nor very particular about being on time… but she always looked fantastic, and she was worth waiting for. Her outfits were pristine, thoughtful, and perfectly paired for the occasion, gathering, or holiday at hand. Her heels were sky high and fashion-forward. Her trademark was knowing the “personal color analysis” of anyone she looked at, and she was able to tell any passerby the clothing and color scheme that would suit him or her best. Once, she even performed a “color reading” for every guest at her granddaughter’s birthday party. The partygoers were 8-years-old, and presumably color coordinated for life.

Along with innate generosity and integrity, Carolyn was deeply devoted to her Christian faith, often citing Bible verses she lived by and extending friendship to fellow parishioners who became fast friends. Her Rolodex was filled to the brim, her contacts either sharing her gift of gab or reveling in it. She never forgot a birthday, she loved truly unconditionally, and she gave people the benefit of the doubt.

Carolyn was lucky enough to find love twice in her life. At the age of 82, she married Jim Gathman with whom she enjoyed laughter, senior life, and a blended family of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. They shared four years of marriage until his death in 2022.

Carolyn will be deeply missed forever by her beloved son Alan Rohde and her treasured daughter Anne Griffin. In a fitting tribute to her life as a dedicated mother, her children took turns spending nearly every week with her as she aged. Carolyn is also survived by her cherished daughter-in-law Elizabeth Rohde and her adored son-in-law Michael Griffin. Carolyn’s most cherished loved ones were her grandchildren with whom she shared lasting and beautiful relationships. She will be remembered always by Kyle (Aileen) Rohde, Brian (Laura Suprenant) Rohde, Ashley (Jeffrey) Mauch, Sara (Matthew) Glass, Michael (Jennifer Shimmer) Griffin Jr., Aaron (Cynthia) Griffin, and Sean (Veena) Griffin. She was blessed with a life long enough to love several great grandchildren: Charles, Alexander, Benjamin, Hazen, Eli, and Leo. She will be missed deeply by her brother, David Dresback, and adored always by her many nieces, nephews, and truly dear friends.

When asked once what piece of advice she’d like to offer future generations, she wrote this: “Live every day like it’s your last, and let people know you love them.”

Carolyn accomplished that mission, and then some.

When life got difficult or trying, Carolyn was famous for looking on the bright side, often remarking that “everything is fine!” even when it, perhaps, was not.

We, the family, with fond memories say this:

Mom and Grandma, Until we meet again, we promise we’ll be “just fine.” Though finer with you near us, we will live proudly in your reflection, carry on your traditions, and remember you with all our hearts.

While wearing the colors that suit us best, of course.

We love you.

A visitation for family and friends will be held on March 9th from 10am-11am at First Congregational Church (1047 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove, IL). A funeral service will be held at the church immediately after at 11am. Graveside services will follow the funeral  - at 11:45am - at Clarendon Hills Cemetery (6900 South Cass Avenue, Darien, IL).

Please join in a luncheon to celebrate Carolyn’s life at Three Corners Grill (75th & Lemont Road, Downers Grove), directly following services.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to: Our Savior Lutheran Church in Gatlinburg, TN, or First Congregational Church in Downers Grove, IL.

Divine Passage Funeral Home in Ripon, WI is proudly serving the family.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Carolyn A. Rohde, please visit our floral store.

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March 9, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
First Congregational Church - Illinois
1047 Curtiss Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Funeral Service
March 9, 2024

11:00 AM
First Congregational Church - Illinois
1047 Curtiss Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Graveside Service
March 9, 2024

11:45 AM
Clarendon Hills Cemetery
6900 South Cass Avenue
Darien, IL 60561


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