Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Carol Decker



Honored June, 1992

Carol Decker

"In all of the experiences I've had, I've seen over and over again that unless you can talk with people about the fundamentals of life--of spirit, image, connectedness to the universe--then you are just tinkering," said Carol Decker.

Describing herself as "an old New England Yankee," Carol was the oldest of three children born to Scott and Alma Paradise in 1927. Her father taught English at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. "1 was a sickly, asthmatic little kid who found solace in books, particularly about the West, where dreams of health and adventure expanded the walls of the bedroom," she recalled.

She started studying Spanish at Abbot Academy. A summer with the Experiment in International Living, spent with a family in Mexico, prompted a major in Spanish and anthropology at Connecticut College. "I went on to work on my master's in Spanish at Columbia, but my real education came from the New York International House, where I lived with people from all over the world," she said. Afterwards, she spent a year in Mexico City's Xochimilco neighborhood with a Quaker community development project.

Carol met her husband, Fred, when both were teaching at a prep school in Arizona. They got married in 1956, and lived in New York and Spain before settling in Connecticut, where Fred taught for the University of Connecticut for eighteen years. They raised a son, Scott, and a daughter, Anne.

Throughout the 1960s, Carol watched the racial/cultural turmoil of the era with growing dismay. "The deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy propelled me into action," she said. "I found myself involved in cross-cultural relations among inner-city blacks, outer-city whites, and immigrant Hispanic groups, developing various innovative projects. Some of these were church-sponsored, which led to deepening interest in the relationships between faith and society--which led to Yale Divinity School." "I was a gray-head when I graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1977," she recalled. "I then worked as a campus minister at the University of Bridgeport for three years.

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Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes