Carolyn Faye (Weisman) Borkan who passed away at age 90 on August 11, 2021 was a woman of vision and determination who embraced the strength and potential of a dually professional and family centered life well before this was a road well-travelled. She was born November 16, 1930 in Dayton, Ohio, the daughter of two Eastern European immigrants who had fled to the US seeking shelter and opportunity.
Carolyn took every kind of extra-curricular lesson as a child – and particularly loved the piano, leading to a lifelong appreciation of classical music. She also discovered the joy of clothes, the comfort of fabric, and the ability to perfectly fold clothing while working in her father’s downtown Dayton, Ohio store from a young age. While in high school, Carolyn befriended a newcomer, Frieda Borkan, who introduced her to her brother Norman, who became “the love of her life”, and who she married in 1951. They shared 70 years of holding hands, traveling, raising children and enjoying grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They also supported each other through multiple moves and job changes from Dayton to Toledo, to Cleveland to Dallas, and eventually to Boston. They held each other up through illnesses and traveled the globe whenever they could. Theirs was an enduring friendship and marriage of mutual reliance and grand compromise, that over a lifetime, allowed each time to have it their way and to overcome every barrier that arose in their paths.
Friends and community were very important to her. Her leadership was recognized by B’nai B’rith, and she served as an officer or on the board of nearly every Synagogue they attended; and later in the Jewish Community at her Hingham, Massachusetts retirement community where she and her husband had been for the last 7 years.
Education was also central – for herself and her family. Though she left Ohio State to get married, she went back to college in the 1960s to finish her degree and often prepared for finals over hotdogs, baked beans, and baked sliced apples with Terri, Jeff and Steve, her three children – all studying together at each corner of a square dinner table. She first got her teaching certificate and taught elementary school in an intercity, underprivileged school. She went back to school two more times, first to become a guidance counselor, then a school psychologist and only retired at age 75. She took special interest in the education of her children and grandchildren.
Along their decades-long journey and many travels, she became an accidental collector of elephant species: porcelain, glass, wood, stone, metal, and ceramic given by traveling family and from all over the globe. A few years ago, Grandma B. shared her life and distributed her beloved herd of 100 plus elephant collection to her 3 children, their partners and all 9 grandchildren with the joy of being the lead guide on a Grand Safari.
Carolyn’s curiosity crossed politics, healthcare, religion, and climate change, and she could often be heard in great debate with nieces, nephews and grandchildren citing the most recent Boston Globe articles. Carolyn loved her ever expanding family of great grandchildren that surrounded her. Carolyn Borkan lived a long life, full and complete, and connected. Her last words were “I love you too”, representative of her caring legacy.
Should you wish to do so, donations in Carolyn’s memory can be sent to:
- American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org
- The Center for Early Relationship Support at Jewish Family & Children’s Service https://www.jfcsboston.org