Friday, June 19, 2009

Drive Toward the Sun

For the almost 200 people attending the memorial service for Carol Jo Crannell today, the directions to get from the service to the reception afterward included the line "drive toward the sun." The service was held in the auditorium of the Physics department at Catholic University in Washington DC. The service afterward was at the home Carol had lived in with her family for more than three decades in Silver Spring, Maryland. Silver Spring is northwest of Catholic U. so the directions took us through a short maze of DC streets before we turned north. It was 6pm when the service ended so driving west meant driving toward the sun (actually, as Carol would known well, the sun was not exactly west, but 15 degrees south of west at 6pm since it is Daylight Savings Time).

The service was a celebration of a life well lived by family, friends, teachers who worked with Carol on a NASA outreach program to schools, and colleagues from NASA Goddard. After the funeral for an infant child I attended earlier this week, it was good to be at a service for woman who lived her life well and fully. It is no small irony for me that the grief I have experienced during my first weeks of deployment is in America, not in Iraq.

Here's the short bio on the program for the service:

Carol Jo Argus grew up in Columbus, Ohio, the oldest of four children.  The nuns at her Catholic schools successfully encouraged her parents to support her academic endeavors.  She earned her B.A. from Miami University and a PhD from Stanford University, both in physics.  While a graduate student, she married Hall Crannell and had the first of her three daughters.

After graduate school, the family moved to Maryland where her house was always open to friends and filled with an abundance of pets. Carol worked for Goddard Space Flight Center as a solar astrophysicist, studying solar gamma rays and playing an instrumental role in the success of SUNBEAMS, a NASA teacher internship program.  She loved going to the balloon launches and seeing her payloads rise safely into the air.  

Carol was active in Girl Scouting her entire life, leading large camping trips and teaching other leaders outdoors skills.  She was a strong advocate of her local civic association, a clerk of course in her daughters’ summer swim league, and a regular blood donor.  Once her daughters grew up, she began square dancing with Hall, and the two of them managed to get at least one of her granddaughters hooked.

Carol is fondly remembered by her husband, her three siblings (Pam, Scott, and Connie), by her three daughters (Annalisa, Francesca, and Tasha), by her eight grandchildren (Rebecca, Lauren, Argus, Iolanthe, Lisa, Nigel, Anika, and Janelle), and by her many friends and colleagues.

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