A Tribute to Carolyn Wilson

Carolyn WilsonCarolyn Wilson, a long-time WNBA member who served tirelessly at both the local and national levels, passed away in mid-October after a short illness. Her service to the WNBA Nashville Chapter is legendary among the book community. There would be no such chapter without Carolyn.

One member put it quite well:

“Indeed, for more than a generation, Carolyn Wilson was WNBA — she was each new member’s first friend. For myself, I deeply appreciate Carolyn’s leadership and have always recognized that it was Carolyn and her generation that paved the way for so many of us. She was the vanguard and yet so much more — Carolyn Wilson was a dear friend and mentor who has made the world a better place because she was here, and her legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched.”

Carolyn was the heart and soul of the Nashville Chapter. Many of our members joined because of her. She had several ways of recruiting us into the chapter, from getting us to go to a program we might be interested in to asking us to volunteer for a specific job.

As a leader of the WNBA, Carolyn was a driving force on the Humanities Tennessee organizational committee that started the Southern Festival of Books and was an active volunteer for almost 30 years. She coordinated teams of WNBA volunteers to help host, drive authors to and from the airport, man the signing area, and much more. To this day, the WNBA is a presence at the Southern Festival of Books because of Carolyn.

Carolyn presents the WNBA Award to Barbara Bush

On behalf of the WNBA, Carolyn also single handedly organized and presented the 6 week Summer Reading Series in partnership with Lipscomb University, where she was Head Librarian. Each year had a different theme, and each week a discussion would be held about a book that fit into that summer’s theme. Classes were taught by local teachers, university professors, and librarians. A community of readers was created just by this series. Carolyn was a wonderful mentor to so many of us, quietly guiding and encouraging us in our personal and professional lives.

Here’s what another member said:

“She wisely (and gently) counseled the WNBA board. Never once did I see Carolyn lose her patience with board presidents who had little or no experience. Carolyn loved generously, and she will be missed.”

Carolyn was such a role model for all of us that the Carolyn Wilson Volunteer Award was created to honor a member who exemplified her commitment to serving WNBA in a volunteer role. Carolyn was given an honorary membership from the Nashville chapter because of her long and faithful service. She continued to serve on the local board right up until her untimely death.

Carolyn has left a large legacy for the Nashville Chapter — the true legacy is each WNBA member who is a member because of her. She will be missed.

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