When saw we the sick or in prison an come unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them,
Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matt:25:39 and 40
In reflecting on her life, Carol Cox Ingram knows that her Christian faith has been the foundation for her life. She says, “Each step has been a preparation for the next one. Matthew 25:40 serves as the basis for the work I have done.”
Carol came from one of the dense, multi-ethnic neighborhoods near Belmont and Central, that confluence of streets on the northwest side of the city in Chicago. Her parents, Hazel and William Cox, were of Norwegian, English and Welch ancestry: they settled in the Belmont/Central community to raise their only daughter.
Carol’s journey from northwest Chicago to rural western North Carolina is one of the interesting turns and pivotal intersections that opened new horizons to a young city girl. Carol’s family was very involved in Christ Lutheran Church. She regularly attended Sunday school, was confirmed, sang in the choir, and was active in the youth group. After graduating from high school, her first two years of college were in Minnesota at St. Olaf. Her liberal arts pursuit was interrupted by a decision to enter a three- year nursing program at Lutheran Deaconess School of Nursing in Chicago, where she received a diploma and, after passing state boards, became a registered nurse. Carol returned to St. Olaf College to complete a BA in sociology.
When asked why she went into medicine, Carol chuckles, saying “I don’t know.” There was no family role model nor had she dreamed of being a nurse as a child. Nursing however, became her profession, and she pursued accreditation and skills at one of the country’s most distinguished nursing institutions. She received her Masters in Nursing Education at the University of Chicago where she was a student of Florence Blake, one of the two outstanding pediatric nurses in the country. It was Ms. Blake who urged Carol to apply for a traineeship at the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University.
Thus, began Carol’s affiliation with Duke University, where she began teaching pediatric nursing and later worked on a grant supported project in the Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics in the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic.
Soon after moving to Chapel Hill, she worked in the UNC Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill in the pediatric department. Carol’s life in North Carolina was not all work and no play. Soon after arriving, she took an evening class in world religions at UNC Chapel Hill to enrich her interest in religion and expand her social life. She was successful on both counts, for in class she met a handsome young man from Avery County.
Eighteen months later, Jim Ingram and Carol were married in a quiet Christmas ceremony at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chapel Hill. They settled down to work and raise their two children Mark and Kristi, but the call of the mountains lured the Ingram’s back to Jim’s roots. They purchased a forty-eight-acre farm. Jim was interested in horticulture and established an orchard on the property while working for a small local firm. Carol found avenues to follow her passion for nursing and health education.
Through a state grant, Carol, began nursing as WNC family grief counselor for families who lost an infant to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Later Carol worked as a nurse in a pediatric office and was the child health nurse for the Yancey County Health Department. She began teaching classes on SIDS at Mayland Community College which led ultimately to a full-time position.
Several years later, she became department head of the nursing program, serving in the capacity for nine years. “To honor beloved family member and long time head of Mayland Community College’s Nursing Department, the Carol Cox Ingram Scholarship was established by the Stokes Ingram heirs. This scholarship is a fitting tribute to Carol Cox Ingram, her life’s work and her devotion to educating future nurses.”
Carol moved into Mars Hill Retirement Community in 2005 and continues to be a teacher to all of us.
Through her grace and tenacity, while fighting Parkinson’s disease, Carol continues with the help of her friends and staff, to be active and involved in her church. She is a regular participant in adult education and is a member of the Villager Initiative and Caring Crew. She is part of a team that staffs My Sister’s Attic, a resale shop that benefits abused women and children. Inside the retirement community Carol coordinates vesper services which are held here every Sunday afternoon. She enjoys day trips, musicals, trips to the theater, and other activities with other residents of Mars Hill Retirement Community.
Carol’s children are grown now and have children of their own. Son, Mark and his wife, now live in Morristown, Tennessee and have two children. Her daughter Kristi and her husband live in Canandaigua, NY, and have four children.
It has been said of Carol Cox Ingram, a city girl who found herself far from the flat Midwest City of her birth, that she is a model of competent and caring professionalism. She also has a lot to teach about productive Christian living.
We can all be glad that Carol intersects our lives.