Carol Jean Leafblad was born August 5, 1937, to Howard and Lillian Leafblad of Ashland, Wisconsin. She gained her wings June 22, 2020, while in the Wetumpka Community Hospital, and was buried at a graveside service on June 26 in Gordonville, Alabama.
Carol accepted Christ at an early age and joined the Salem Baptist Church of Ashland. She later moved to Fergus Falls, and became a member of First Baptist Church (CrossRoads). Upon her move to Lowndes County, Alabama, in 1993 she joined and remained a faithful member of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church.
Carol’s life was dedicated to serving God and serving others. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Bethel College in Minneapolis and taught language arts in Fergus Falls for nearly 30 years. In 1966, Carol traveled from Minnesota to the tiny town of Mosses in Lowndes County, Alabama, as a volunteer for the Tuskegee Institute Community Education Program to teach people to read and write and to help register Blacks to vote for the first time since the Reconstruction. She returned to Alabama every summer after that and assisted in opening a general store, conducted summer school, and completed her master’s degree at Alabama State University. She also encouraged her home church in Fergus Falls to plan numerous mission trips to Lowndes County where the team helped build the community youth center, swimming pool, volleyball court, and a library with books donated from all around the United States.
In 1988 the National Education Association awarded Carol the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Award. Given annually, it honors one recipient who has demonstrated “perseverance and creativity in achieving human and civil rights goals in the nonviolent philosophy and manner exemplified by Dr. King.”
In 1991 she and best friend/colleague, Jean Dahling published “Sweet Freedom,” a collection of recipes for bars they had baked and sold for 25 cents apiece in the Fergus Falls teachers’ lounge to raise money for their nonprofit organization Until Freedom. They funded projects in Lowndes County and scholarships to encourage minority students to continue their educations.
Carol retired from Fergus Falls schools in 1993 and made Lowndes County her home. One of Carol’s greatest joys was working with young people, especially those less fortunate. She wrote a play for community stages titled “What’s My place, Mama?” to shine a light on everyday injustices, perseverance for freedom, and the importance of voting.
She leaves to cherish her memory a goddaughter and granddaughter, Yolanda and Ataya Aaron, Fargo; brother, William (Deborah) Leafblad, Kansas City, Missouri; sister-in-law, Gail Leafblad, Waterfalls, Wisconsin; many nieces and nephews; and many friends up North and down South.
She was preceded in death by her parents; two brothers, Howard and Robert; and her closest friend, Jean Dahling.
Memorials may be sent in Carol’s name to the Fergus Area College Foundation.