Carol Louise McKee Gerlach, age 81, of St. George, Utah, passed away peacefully at her home in Lehi, Utah on April 17, 2023, after a months-long battle with cancer.
Carol McKee was born on January 14, 1942, in Ponca City, Oklahoma, to Cleet Harold McKee and Bobbie Louise Jackson. Carol was the oldest of three children: her sister Marlene, and her brother Max. Carol was a small-town girl with a big heart and an adventurous spirit that was ready for bigger adventures. Carol met Robert “Bob” Louis Gerlach during his internship with Conoco Oil Company in Oklahoma, they were set up on a blind date by a friend, and they fell in love and began their great adventure together. Carol and Bob married on November 16, 1962, in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
Carol worked as a stenographer to high level industrial management at Conoco Oil company and then as an assistant to academic leaders at Cornell University as her husband, Bob, pursued his PhD. She was fiercely proud to earn her “PhT” (Putting Hubby Through) Award at Cornell from the faculty. Carol became a mother at Cornell where she delivered her two sons Scott and Brett.
Bob and Carol moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Carol first learned and embraced the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. She was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and embarked upon a lifetime of church service where she gave selflessly and brought light and hope to thousands of people over the years. Carol and Bob spent 16 years in Minnetonka, Minnesota, where Carol delivered their two daughters, Avalie and Cheri. In 1990, Carol and Bob moved to Portland, Oregon, where they spent the remainder of their working years and then began retirement. Carol loved to travel and serve, so they decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a retired couple and were called to serve as Academic Support Mentors at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Bob taught courses in science to the university students, and Carol taught community art classes, mentored young mothers, and loved everyone around her. After returning from their mission, Carol and Bob relocated to Eagle Mountain, Utah, and then to St. George, Utah, where Bob passed away. Carol enjoyed her last years in sunny St George where she made many friends and connections through her art. She adored the warm weather and palm trees that she loved to paint in her work. Her last few weeks Carol then moved to Lehi, Utah, in March 2023 to be closer to family.
Carol believed that it is never too late to learn something new. She began painting classes at age 45, taking courses from local community colleges and artist workshops, and eventually traveling all over the country to seek out the best artists to train her. By the time Carol was 80, she had mastered watercolor, taught hundreds of workshops, and had pieces in many influential galleries in St. George and beyond. She won awards and accolades, but most importantly she found joy in her art. As age limited her mobility, Carol began working with paint pours in the modern style. Her art reflects her vibrant, active, loving life. Carol loved to give and serve and was quick to share her art with those around her. She loved to share her gifts.
Carol loved animals, and she fed the neighborhood cats, birds, and critters wherever she lived. She was a talented gardener who could coax beautiful roses and plants to grow even in the harsh climate of the Mountain West. Carol loved to be outside and could often be seen riding her tricycle through the neighborhood, digging in the garden, or filling her bird feeders and bird baths--always wearing her beautiful wide-brimmed sun hats and a smile.
Carol loved to give gifts, create beauty, and encourage those around her. She loved to sing and dance, often personalizing songs to connect with those around her. Her children and grandchildren loved her renditions of “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck” as well as singing and dancing to Neil Diamond, Elvis, and Abba. Carol knew how to have fun and shared her verve for life with everyone around her. She was an amazing mother, Nana, and great-grandma. Carol was the world’s best cheerleader and advocate; she was quick to praise and quick to assist whatever the struggle. Carol saw past brokenness, loved as Jesus loves, and always found room and time to succor the brokenhearted.
Carol is survived by her children Brett Cornell Gerlach, married to Vicki Lisa Richards, of American Fork, Utah; Avalie Muhlestein married to Trent David Muhlestein of Eagle Mountain, Utah; and Cheri Louise Robinson married to Ryan Clayne Robinson of Layton, Utah; her sister Marlene Harris of Wichita, Kansas, and her brother Max McKee of Denton, Texas; as well as 20 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Carol is preceded in death by her husband Robert Louis Gerlach, her mother Bobbie Louise Jackson, her father Cleet Harold McKee, and her son Scott Gerlach.
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at 1:00 pm, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3382 East Spring Mountain Dr., Eagle Mountain, Utah, 84005.
A visitation will be held prior to services from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm, also at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3382 East Spring Mountain Drive, Eagle Mountain, Utah, 84005.
Another visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, from 9:30 – 10:30 am, at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 South Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, 84770.
A graveside service will follow on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at 1:00 pm, at Tonaquint Cemetery, 1777 South Dixie Drive, St. George, Utah, 84770.
Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. 435-673-2454. Family and friends are invited to leave a memory on Carol’s obituary page at www.spilsburymortuary.com
Saturday, April 22, 2023
11:30 - 11:00 am (Mountain time)
Saturday, April 22, 2023
1:00 - 2:00 pm (Mountain time)