Eagle-Vail mom faced disease with courage, friends say | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail mom faced disease with courage, friends say

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyCarole Oliver, who lived in Eagle-Vail for about 20 years and died recently, was a loving mother and wife, and had a funny laugh, friends said. A celebration of her life will be held 4 p.m. Thursday in the Eagle-Vail Pavilion.

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” Carole Oliver always kept up on the news in the Vail Valley, even when she spent the last four years of her life in Georgia.

She missed the valley and read the Vail Daily online every day as she her body slowly became paralyzed from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“She loved to keep in touch with everybody and knew what was going on in the community even when she was gone,” said Ginny Snowdon, a friend of Oliver’s.

Carole Espy Oliver, of Roswell, Ga., who lived in Eagle-Vail about 20 years, died at 52 in her home in April after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease. Friends described Oliver as a kind, thoughtful, outgoing, fun friend who was devoted to her children, David and Amy Oliver.

Oliver was always smiling and she enjoyed parties and playing tennis in Vail.

“She was the best friend a person could ever have,” said Nancy Wright, a friend of Oliver’s who lives in Eagle-Vail.

Oliver worked as a tireless volunteer for Wild West Day and in parent-teacher associations for Eagle County schools her son and daughter attended. She sold T-shirts at school basketball and football games to raise money for sports, supervised golf team tryouts for Battle Mountain High School, and whatever else she was asked to do.

“She would never say, ‘No, I can’t do that’ or act like anything was beneath her,” said Christy Lippert, a friend of Oliver’s who lives in Vail. “She just jumped in and did it.”

Oliver also threw great parties at high school graduation and at Halloween. She once held a Halloween scavenger hunt and someone got black make-up all over her car.

“I guess that wouldn’t be too funny to me, but she laughed at it,” Wright said. “She just loved people.”

Michelle Cahill’s daughters used to try to make her and Oliver laugh together because when the women laughed, Cahill snorted and Oliver sounded like a seagull.

“My kids thought of her as their second mom,” said Cahill, of Vail.

Oliver was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in December 2003 and moved to suburban Atlanta to be with her family shortly after.

The disease leads to paralysis because the brain loses its ability to control muscles in the body. No cure exists for Lou Gehrig’s, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Oliver’s friends often went to see her in Georgia.

“She had such a positive attitude and really never complained,” Snowdon said. “She just had a lot of spirit through the whole thing.”

As in Oliver’s case, the disease does not usually affect a person’s thinking. Oliver had a sharp mind and wit until her death, friends said.

“It was kind of hard watching this disease taking her body, knowing that her mind was still there and that she was so alert and capable of going on with life,” said another friend, Louise Funk.

If Oliver were still alive, she would be helping out in schools, in church and in the community, Funk said.

She also might be having margaritas with Funk and her friends Abby Dann, Karin Johnson and Snowdon, who often went out to lunch together.

“I have tons of pictures where it’s the five of us together,” Funk said.

Oliver is survived by her husband, Jerry Oliver, of Roswell; their children, David Oliver and Amy Oliver, of Denver; sisters Patty Cloy, of Roswell, and Nancy Kilch, of Marietta, Geo.; and nieces, nephews and friends.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 970-748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

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