Cover photo for Caroline M. (Jordan)  Kolder's Obituary
Caroline M. (Jordan)  Kolder Profile Photo
1949 Caroline 2022

Caroline M. (Jordan) Kolder

May 18, 1949 — November 3, 2022

Davenport, Barrington

Caroline “Carrie” Kolder of Barrington passed away peacefully November 3, 2022.  She was born May 18, 1949 in Evanston, IL to Richard and Beatrice Jordan.

Carrie was a beloved teacher of English at Fremd High School for 31 years.  She became lifelong friends with many of her students who she referred to as “her kids”.  As a teacher she reached so many young minds and was always willing to listen and offer advice.  Carrie loved working in her yard and garden, her flowers and planters were her pride and joy.  She was an avid Notre Dame fan and a proud member of the “ND Kazoo Band”.  In addition to the Fighting Irish, Carrie enjoyed following all sports, from the NBA to the Chicago Cubs.

Carrie is survived by her husband of 48 years, Jim; brothers, Dick (Maureen) Jordan, and Chris Jordan; sister, Beatrice “Beats” (late Timothy) LeJeune; and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be 9am until the funeral mass at 11am Thursday November 10 at St. Anne Catholic Church, 120 N. Ela Street, Barrington.  Interment will be private.

Teacher asks to see 31 years of kids after class

By John Keilman and Tribune staff reporter
Chicago Tribune
Jun 25, 2004

It was a dream only an English teacher would have: a retirement party jammed
with hundreds of former students, all bearing essays.
That's what Carrie Kolder wanted as a brain tumor brought her 31-year career at
Fremd High School in Palatine to a premature end. And on Saturday, after nearly
a year of planning, that's what she will get.
As many as 500 of her "kids"--some of whom are now approaching their 50s--are
expected to meet in the school cafeteria for a farewell salute to the tough but
tender Mrs. K, who demanded the best from D students and college bound alike.
She set the price of admission as one last bit of homework, a paper in which the
students recall how their time in Kolder's classroom shaped their lives. The
assignment has prompted many to reflect on the huge impact one teacher can
have.

"I was told in high school that I was not college material by my guidance
counselor. [Kolder] said that's not acceptable, and now I have my master's
degree," said Cindy Guerrero, 38, a health teacher at Barrington High School.
"That kind of shows that even when you don't have faith in yourself, a lot can be
accomplished when someone has faith in you."
Kolder, who declines to give her age, grew up in Glenview with three siblings
and her mother, who was divorced. A product of Catholic schools, she paid her
way through Illinois State University by alternating a semester of classes with
months of waiting tables. She once thought about becoming a nun, but a
literature class revealed her true calling.

"When you go to school, sometimes you read pieces to get ready for a test,"
Kolder said. The professor "inspired me to get something about life out of a
piece of literature."
Upon graduation in 1973, she took her first and only job in the Fremd English
department, setting an old-school tone at odds with an increasingly casual
society. Manners were important. Misspellings and poor grammar were
intolerable. And corrections didn't come with roses and perfume.

But even the students stressed by her demands sensed she had their best
interests at heart. When John Valentine struggled in English, she recognized his
woodshop talents and asked him to make her a planter box. The compliment

inspired him to try harder, and he went on to earn an MBA and work in
corporate real estate.

Sometimes the lessons came outside the classroom. Peter J. Siavelis did well in
school, but the death of his father a few years before high school left him
draped in sadness.
"I think she probably just realized that I was struggling with this," Siavelis said. "I
just remember one day she pulled me aside and said you can't change what
happened in the past. She gave me this poem, saying it was up to me to take
control of my life, not feel like I've been cheated."

The well-known maxim from Charles Swindoll's "Attitude" advises that "life is 10
percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it." Siavelis, 34, a
health care executive, still has the copy Kolder gave him.

Three years ago, Kolder's own attitude was put to the test. Doctors found a
brain tumor and advised her that chemotherapy and radiation wouldn't be
effective. Although the prognosis is unclear, the tumor could eventually paralyze
her, she said.

Elizabeth Felt Wakeman, 39, a former student and longtime friend, said that
when she learned of the diagnosis, "I started crying and [Kolder] said, `Now,
now. That's not how we're going to handle this.' Strength and dignity, that's how
she lives her life. I was falling apart, and she wasn't going to allow that."

Kolder put in for retirement this year to spend more time with her husband, Jim,
who recently concluded his own 33-year stint as a Fremd math instructor, and to

taste life outside the classroom. But as a last hurrah, she decided to indulge in
every teacher's ultimate wish: learning the difference she made in her students'
lives.

Aided by Wakeman, Guerrero and another former student, Linda Ryan Puffer,
she assembled a list of every person she ever taught and mailed 3,560
invitations to her open house. She asked for essays about how her class affected
them.

Even before the party, dozens of letters poured in. One of the most poignant
came from Karen Krempetz-Schnable. In the mid-1970s, she was a painfully shy
pupil in Kolder's freshman English class who received a stern, private lecture
after a disastrous speech.
"You told me I would never amount to anything if I didn't learn to be more
assertive," she wrote.

The words burned, and Krempetz-Schnable spent years angrily trying to prove
them wrong, competing in beauty pageants, earning a master's degree and
winning office as a township clerk. But it wasn't until she became a substitute
teacher, dealing with her own troubled students, that she understood Kolder's
critique.

"You motivated me to be more than a shy, quiet little girl," she wrote. "Today I
am not afraid to speak to groups of people, because I am confident in myself,
and that I owe to you. ... I am sorry that it took me so long to understand what
your motivation was, but I am glad I can share it with you now."

Hundreds of stories should follow when the party--open to all of Kolder's
students even if they didn't receive an invitation--begins at 2 p.m. The tales will
nourish Kolder as she trades the frantic pace of high school for gardening,
volunteering and preserving her health.

"I will read them often, and I will never read them with a dry eye," she said. "It's
kind of like looking back on your life, knowing that not only I've touched kids but
they've touched me. I have a feeling that in my down moments, I'll pull these
right out and read them and love every moment of it."

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, November 10, 2022

9:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

St. Anne Catholic Community

120 Ela St, Barrington, IL 60010

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Mass

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

St. Anne Catholic Community

120 Ela St, Barrington, IL 60010

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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