Sunday, September 2, 2007


This is a photograph of my friend, Carol Richard. Carol was a dancer. I took the photograph in the living room of my apartment in the Bronx, sometime in the 1970s. Carol would have been in her mid- to late-20s. I was with Carol for the last time not too many months after this image was made.

This past winter another old friend, who had looked me up on the internet, gave me Carol’s email address. After a hiatus of 30+ years, Carol and I exchanged two emails. I received the final one on February 28th. Carol died on August 21st, her life taken by the cancer of which she had told me via email.

This morning, I googled Carol’s obituary as it appeared in a couple of Chapel Hill newspapers. Then I dug into a box that was stacked in a closet among other dusty boxes of memorabilia, to find this photograph. Because I am a poor photographer, this image captures little of Carol’s stately elegance and dancer’s grace. But it does project her smile. Even I could not miss that.

The obituary said that Carol was 59 years old. I would have thought her a few years younger than that. The obituary does not mention that Carol lived for some time in New York City, studying dance, prior to moving to North Carolina where she enjoyed a long career as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher of dance.

I visited Carol in North Carolina not long after she began teaching at Duke University. During that visit Carol turned me on for the very first time to yogurt and to the jazz of Eric Dolphy, two tastes that I have continued to enjoy until this very day. I have no doubt that each and every person who has had the good fortune to know Carol has had his or her life similarly enriched by her, and much more so. In the years during which Carol and I moved in the same circles, I never heard a single word said against her. Carol was loved by everyone who knew her, and everyone who knew her is diminished by her loss.

In that last email, Carol said of her life, “I enjoy it very much when I’m not freaking out about dying.” May God bless you and keep you, Carol; your words express the best that any of us can hope for from this life.

I will always remember you with love.


Madscribe said...

Rodak, my condolences.

Rodak said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I knew Carol around the same time as your lovely photograph was taken.
She was such a talented and bright person, with so much good will and generosity of spirit. I saw her once in North Carolina and took her ballet class -- it was beautifully composed and all her students were obviously devoted to her.
Thank you for sharing the photo and your memories. It was a shock to me to find out about her untimely death so long after the fact.
Jonathan Hollander

Rodak said...

Thank you for your comment. You and I were fortunate to have known Carol.
At the time of my cat-assisted awakening this morning, I got up wondering--as I have been for some time now--if this blog has any value, if it is worth maintaining.
You have demonstrated to me that, in its own very small way, it is.
I thank you for that as well.

Laura said...

thank you for posting your remembrances of Carol...I was surfing the web tonight looking up old dance memories, etc and learned about Carol's passing two years ago...I met Carol in NC in the mid-70's and took classes from her for the ten years I lived in Chapel Hill--she had a beautiful smile and was talented and lucky I am that our paths crossed...Laura d.

Rodak said...

Laura D.--
I'm gratified that you found the post. And thank you for taking the time to comment. Carol was a special person, and I think of her often.

Lynne H. said...

This is a beautiful write on a beautiful spirit. Though having never met her in person, I just did.. I thank you for the introduction..

Anonymous said...

I join the ranks of those who know and loved Carol, as I post this message from Auckland, New Zealand, where I have been living for the last 17 years. I graduated from UNC and spent many years in Chapel Hill, where my path crossed many times with Carol's. Shocking and terribly sad to hear of her passing. Andrew Michaels, former owner Aurora Restaurant.

Rodak said...

Thank you for adding your memories to the rest, Andrew. Carol was a wonderful friend whose passing left an unfillable hole in the world.