Cover photo for Carol Vivan Weber Medaris's Obituary
Carol Vivan Weber Medaris Profile Photo
1936 Carol 2024

Carol Vivan Weber Medaris

August 2, 1936 — February 29, 2024

Madison, WI

A Love Letter to My Mom

On Leap Day 2024, Carol Vivan Weber Medaris took the giant leap off her lily pad of life.  She had a wonderful and impactful 87 years until her heart quietly slowed to a stop.  She maintained her natural smiling face even through the last five years of medical challenges and only in the last month did that signature smile begin to fade.  Mom was a true force and the strongest person I’ll ever know.  

My mom was born in Los Angeles California to Virginia, a teacher and homemaker, and Richard, a basketball coach, teacher, and businessman.  She was the first of four girls born over the next 10 years.  Mom would always strive to be top of her class and best daughter, and was dedicated to school and community in Girl Scouts, Dorsey High Student Council, and Hostess Club.  Because of her academic and athletic achievements, she was recognized by the California Scholarship Association and Girls Letter Society.  She would happily sing you a spunky Dorsey High song on cue.  

Mom and Dad met at Stanford while Mom was studying English and playing volleyball.  She had gorgeous blond hair, beautifully tanned skin, and a stunning smile.  She would always consider those her trademarks, along with her brains and sharp wit.  One of my proudest moments was giving her a little pixie cut with her newly grown post-chemo hair.  She smiled and said, “cute”.  She may have asked if it still looked blond and I may have said yes.  

My older siblings could probably tell some good stories of Mom as a young hippie parent in the ’60s, but by the time I came along she was coming into herself as a modern woman with a new age plan.  I never saw her bake a single cookie, and dinner was pretty much up to the kids (or the Klehr kids!), since she was too busy becoming America’s best poverty lawyer and welfare expert.

Mom adored her Ladies Lunch Bunch, which was a tight-knit crew formed of new University of Wisconsin professors and families.  She was always so happy to say she was the healthiest in the room…until she wasn’t.  That is when she slowly started to retreat to her very favorite place on Earth, her white chair in the front window of her house on Monona Bay.  She gradually stopped answering her phone and returning emails and disappeared into her own mind.  To all of you out there, each and every one of you, after reading became too difficult, she would spend all day just thinking about you.  She would constantly bring up all the names from her past with memories from days of old or creating new tales that involved you.   

I would like to personally thank all of you South Shore neighbors for embracing my mom every day with waves, chats, visits, and home-cooked meals.  You made her life on the lake simply grand.  

She was an avid Canasta and “May I" player, and a whiz at Jacks in her younger years, when she could sit on the floor comfortably, kicking our butts as she effortlessly went around the world or threw no-bouncies, cigarette almost always in hand.  She was not the type to let anyone else win. Ever.

Grandma Carol was a great free babysitter and adored her grandkids.  We paid her in dinner and wine.  She only almost dropped one baby one time.  She loved doing puzzles with all of them - Luis, Jack, Calvin, and Samantha - and reading Harry Potter aloud until the last eyelid shut.  

Some of the best memories are from the family beach house on Balboa Island, where Mom would compete relentlessly at cards and for the floor when talking politics with her sisters and brothers-in-law, sons-in-law James and Jason, and various nieces and nephews.  As painful as her political rants could be for the rest of us, they fueled her inner fire and were what made her tick.  I’ve just learned of some folks out there who LOVED talking politics with her.  Thanks for telling me that!  One of my best last memories of Mom is getting her suited up to vote at the Oakwood Village drive-through polling place. She was so pleased to cast one more liberal ballot.  

The beach house was a perfect place where moms could do their own thing and dads rarely came around.  We kids did as we pleased while the moms would sit and gab in the front window or read their days away.  My kids will never forget my mom telling them to not eat toast in the front room…while she ate toast in the front room.  And I will forever wonder just how many cigarette butts she buried in the sand.  If you find a Merit Ultra Light filter out in the wild, you know who to blame.      

Her very favorite outings were logging ALL of the plays at American Players Theatre, Christmas Eve movies with the family, ethnic meals with her closest friends, and catching as many foreign films at the Wisconsin Film Festival that one person could see.  We would spend hours drinking wine and pouring over the WFF schedule mapping out a plan.  

Mom’s one and only favorite indoor activity was reading.  No cooking, no bills, no laundry, no phone calls, no housework (in fact she took pride in saying she never cleaned a toilet).  She could spend whole days and into the wee hours of the night engrossed in a book or catching up on the New York Times, State Journal, and Isthmus.  With a cup of coffee, there was nowhere else she’d rather be, 'cept maybe by the piano with Ladies Lunch belting out Dona Nobis Pacem at the top of her lungs.    

Mom Carol is survived by her sisters Susan and Judy, her daughters Susie and Louisa, their husbands and kids, and daughter-in-law Michana.  She was preceded in death by her parents Richard and Virginia, her sister Barbara, and her beautiful, brilliant, blond son David.  

Mom will be inurned on the Southern California coastline overlooking the ocean at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, where her parents and sister are also laid to rest.  

If a donation in Mom’s name is your style, please consider giving to the Democratic Party, Tammy Baldwin, Planned Parenthood, or the Wisconsin Film Festival.

Carolbration is being planned for May 11, 2024, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 663 South Shore Drive, Madison.  I'll try to spread the word but feel free to get in touch with me any time!  louisa@chorus.net 

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