The world lost a beautiful, smart, funny, compassionate, talented and wonderfully creative woman on April 18, 2022. She was fairly healthy and spry and living at home until the last day of her life. At the age of 90 her sense of humor and concern for others was on full display as she lay in the hospital surrounded by family and friends, even knowing her own death was near… “My whole plan to never die is not working out real well.” A loving mother and a great friend to countless people, she will be deeply missed but will live on in so many people’s hearts and memories.
She was an artist at heart, seeking creative and beautiful ways to express her view of the world. As a gifted watercolor painter, she created colorful and evocative landscape scenes of the Oregon coast, often painting “plein air” — outside on the hills, beaches and boat docks with her easel and paint. Her paintings have been exhibited at many galleries. Another lifelong passion of hers was fabric art. She established a women’s clothing company in the 1970’s and 80’s that shipped her unique handmade skirts to shops across the country. First Lady Betty Ford and Kathryn Hepburn wore her designs. She was also musically talented and played the viola in several symphony orchestras. Along with her husband Jim they created an artistic and wonderful park-like garden on the formerly barren lot next to their home on the Oregon coast. In recent years she was an avid quilter, sewing intricate and amazingly beautiful quilts for family and friends.
Carolyn was born January 20, 1932 to Buell and Mabel Crane of St. John, Washington. In 1937 the family moved to Portland, Oregon where she attended Fernwood Elementary and Grant High School. In 1950 she enrolled at Willamette University on a scholarship, graduating in 1954 with a degree in the Arts. She worked for United Airlines as a stewardess, based in New York City and Denver, Colorado. She married Timothy O’Connor in 1956 and had four children while living in Denver. The family moved to Oregon in 1972, living in Bend, Rockaway Beach and Corvallis. Carolyn remained in Corvallis after the death of her husband in 1989. In 1992 she reconnected with college friend Jim Hitchman. They moved to Waldport, Oregon in 1995 and married in 1998. After 20 wonderful years of life together, Jim died in 2015. Carolyn was preceded in death by son Brian and is survived by three children; Daniel O’Connor of Leavenworth, WA, Megan O’Connor (Frederic Wetter) of Norton, KS and Caryn O’Connor (Gaylon DeGeer) of Corvallis, OR and three grandchildren.
“I want you to keep on painting.
But don’t try to paint like someone else. Paint like you.”