Dr. Carolyn Feller and her husband of 53 years, Michael.
Dr. Carolyn Feller, who followed a stellar career in nursing education at Arizona State with the Tempe-based jelly company Carolyn’s Classics, died Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 after a short illness. She was 76.
Her two careers spanned more than 50 years, beginning in her hometown of Peoria, Il.
“It was always her desire to be a nurse,” said her husband of 53 years, Michael Feller. “She attended nursing school and worked at a doctor’s office, and then at a hospital, where she was an instructor.”
After marrying in 1963, the couple moved to Arizona so Michael could attend Arizona State. Carolyn enrolled in the School of Nursing and graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees summa cum laude.
She then earned her doctorate from Texas Women’s University.
“She was so talented and so smart, ASU hired her as a teacher in the nursing school,” Michael said. She soon became an assistant professor.
Her job involved teaching nursing in the classroom and providing practical education in hospitals.
“She really loved nursing and was totally ASU,” he said.
She also served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 22 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
Her husband said friends had expressed concern about the number of nurses in the army, so Carolyn stepped up to offer her services.
During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, she spent 18 months in Washington, D.C. to provide information and logistics concerning nursing for the army.
She also spent time in the Museum of Military History and wrote a book, “Highlights in the History of the Army Nurse Corps.”
She retired from Arizona State in 1998. At that point, she and a friend decided to “do something fun,” Michael said, and started to make jams and jellies.
Within a year, Carolyn’s Classics was in operation, and Carolyn and Michael were selling their products in farmers’ markets around the East Valley.
“Nutrition was very important to her, she was very knowledgeable,” Michael said. “She always sourced local ingredients.”
As sales picked up, her products caught the attention of A.J.’s Fine Foods. She had been using a kitchen in the city of Mesa community center when a space in Tempe became available.
“She told me, ‘That’s going to be my kitchen for the next 15 years,’” he said.
Her array of jalapeno jellies – including blueberry, raspberry and peach – have drawn acclaim. Carolyn’s Classics also produces preserves, marmalades, mustards and horseradishes.
Owing to her background, Carolyn’s products are made with no preservatives or additives, low sugar, low sodium and low cholesterol.
“She didn’t do anything 50 percent or 90 percent,” Michael said. “She did it 100 percent if she got involved.”
Her latest interest was the ASU College of Nursing Alumni Association.
She and Michael also loved to travel. They had been to Europe (Michael is a native of Stuttgart, Germany) and most recently relaxed in Hawaii in November.
“She was just a fabulous, wonderful woman,” Michael said. “The happiness of our marriage couldn’t have been imitated anywhere else.
“We were married for 53 years and were hoping for another 53 years.”
In addition to her husband, Carolyn is survived by two sons, Michael and Sean, and a 13-year-old granddaughter, Elka.