A funeral dirge will play tomorrow for the woman whose smile lit up hundreds of El Campo weddings while she tapped the keys of First Baptist Church’s pipe organ.
A volunteer, the wife of a beloved doctor, an official do-gooder and 2012 El Campo Citizen of the Year, Carolyn Goelzer, 87, died Tuesday in a San Antonio hospital just months after she left the city to be closer to family in New Braunfels.
“Mrs. Goelzer was by far one of the sweetest ladies I have had the pleasure of knowing,” El Campo Chamber of Commerce President Rebecca Munos said Thursday. “She was a remarkable woman, and to know her was to love her ... Humble, witty, kind and caring, Mrs. Goelzer was radiant both inside and out, and a ray of sunshine in the El Campo community.”
Born Dec. 8, 1932 in Venus, Goelzer graduated Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in education/ English and a minor in religion before marrying Ronald E. Goelzer, a soon-to-be doctor from the Waco-based university.
Much of her life after that revolved around the doctor and her love of the community they chose to call home in 1977.
“Carolyn never charges for her time and talent,” the late historian Joe Tom Davis said in a 2012 letter nominating Goelzer as Citizen of the Year. She “has touched the lives of a host of people through the generous sharing of her musical abilities.”
Goelzer played the piano for nursing home residents and assorted not-for-profit events.
Davis, El Campo’s top citizen in 2004, was joined in singing Goelzer’s praises by 2014 citizen Patty Jensen. “She is always thinking of others,” Jensen said in her 2012 nomination letter, citing efforts with senior bingo and visits to nursing homes.
Goelzer had already been in El Campo decades, however, when the chamber award came. She first began to leave her gentle mark with the Sunshine Ladies first at Nightingale Hospital and then at El Campo Memorial.
ECMH Senior Administrative Assistant Irma Rocha remembers the young doctor and his wife.
“She was always a very friendly and caring person,” she said. “When this hospital opened on March 31, 1979, Carolyn was the president of the Sunshine Ladies Organization (and remained a member from that point on).
“When she moved to New Braunfels, she told me that she wanted to remain as a member and do whatever she could for us,” Rocha said. “Carolyn always had a smile on her face and her laughter was contagious.”
Goelzer also helped Rocha’s son Michael get into her alma mater, Baylor University.
She worked as a volunteer for the El Campo museum and senior’s center as well.
A person known far more as a giver than a receiver, the presentation of the Citizen of the Year award took Goelzer completely by surprise that night in the El Campo Civic Center.
“I was floored,” she said. “As it started to dawn on me that it was my biography that was being read up there, I could hardly believe it.”
Others found it not surprising at all.
Rev. Rick DuBroc, the First Baptist pastor for the past 41 years, said Thursday, “she was one those ladies who lived to the fullest until the day she died. She’s a special lady (who) left a hole when she left.”
DuBroc was echoing a sentiment County Judge Philip Spenrath shared in a letter written Feb. 1, 2012. “I have been privileged to witness numerous acts of kindness and generosity throughout our great community.” Among them, he counted Goelzer’s, “special, often unnoticed, contributions” including, for decades, offering comfort to patients when her doctor husband made house calls.
It was just her way.
A nomination letter from the now-late Helen Humphrey said, “Carolyn probably knows, on a first name basis, more citizens than I one time thought lived here. She considers them friends, as do they.”
Goelzer is survived by two daughters and one son as well as three grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and husband.
For information on funeral services, please see Page 9 of this edition of the El Campo Leader-News.
Memorial contributions should be made in Carolyn Goelzer’s memory to First Baptist Church of El Campo, First Protestant Church of New Braunfels, or South Texas Children’s Home – Beeville.