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Carol Virginia Staten passed away peacefully surrounded by love at Lilac Hill, her Fayette, Missouri farm, on January 19, 2024 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. She was 83 years old.
Carol was born in Plainview, Texas on November 20, 1940. She was one of four children of the late of Dr. Elden C. and Lily (Haden) Nicholl. Carol graduated from Plainview High School in 1959. Always considering herself a “West Texas Girl”, Carol’s bond with her home state was shown in her devotion to family and her lasting childhood friendships. Carol attended Texas Tech University, pledged Kappa Alpha Theta, and graduated with a degree in Interior Design.
Expanding on her natural artistic talent, Carol took private art lessons at an early age and continued her passion through college. She spent her sophomore year at the University of Hawaii where she studied studio art under several internationally renowned artists including Jean Charlot. Her abstract expressionism paintings were exhibited in Texas and Virginia, winning multiple awards. Carol shared her enthusiasm for creativity with children, teaching art classes both in Virginia and California.
Carol was swept off her feet in the Panhandle of Texas by a dashing, self-assured Air Force officer with an infectious smile. Kenneth E. Staten, a lieutenant undergoing pilot training, was a Kansas farm boy, who graduated from the US Air Force Academy, beginning his military career at the height of the Cold War and space race. They married five days after Carol graduated from college, proceeding to their first assignment at RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, England. Together these two small town kids began the adventure of their life: a military career that took them on 13 moves in 28 years.
Ken always said that anything they achieved in the Air Force was a joint effort. It was a life not just a profession. Carol was the ideal partner for him, having nerves of steel to withstand the challenges of long separations, frequent moves, and constant uncertainty. She had the self-reliance to run a home and raise children on her own, and the team spirit required to support and encourage other wives. As Ken rose in rank, Carol served as a mentor and role model to younger Air Force spouses.
After a storied military career, Carol and Ken decided to retire and found their dream farm on 365 acres outside Fayette, MO, reminiscent of the rolling hills of Virginia and England. Lilac Hill offered Carol the opportunity to put her research, restoration, interior, and garden design skills to use as she oversaw the restoration of the circa 1830 brick home and grounds. Carol embraced the Howard County community and quickly became active in St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Chapter AU PEO, LTS Club, Couple’s Club, and the Hardeman Garden Society.
Carol’s wide ranging interest in art, decorative items of other cultures, and her love of travel led to her next obsession: collecting and selling antiques. She relished in every part of the process: the thrill of the hunt, her unique ability to find a needle in a haystack, the adrenaline rush of a good auction, the research into the history of the object of and moment in time it was produced, and the satisfaction of getting a good deal. During the 1970s, Carol and her mother opened Gallery Antiques in her hometown in Texas. Beginning in 1997, Carol was one of three partners in the downtown Columbia, MO store, A La Campagne. For 14 years, Carol could be found at local auctions throughout mid-Missouri curating for the lifestyle store that brought her so much joy.
Carol was a great appreciator of life’s delights, which she infectiously shared with others. She was thoughtful and compassionate, a generous hostess, and brightened the lives of many with a kind note or sympathetic gesture.
Family was a top priority for Carol. She enjoyed family reunions and hosted both of her daughters’ weddings at the gardens of Lilac Hill. Carol is survived by two daughters, Heather Staten and her husband Benjamin Bromham of Hood River, OR and Courtney Bramon and her husband Jeff of Fayette, MO; her sister Suzanne Kennedy, Broomfield, CO; four grandchildren Chris Bramon (Heather) of Eldon, MO, Michael Bramon (Ashley) of Fayette, MO, Jake Bromham, Poitiers, France, and Lottie Bromham, Portland, OR, and five great-grandchildren Lana, Hayln, Stevie, Ray, and Clara.
Carol was preceded in death by her husband Maj. Gen. Kenneth E. Staten, brother James Robert Nicholl and his wife Kathy, brother Pat C. Nicholl, and brother-in-law James Kennedy.
Carol was able to finish her life at the place she loved the most, Lilac Hill, with the loving help from her family: especially, her granddaughter in law, Ashley Bramon; her sister, Suzanne; friend, Carmen Forbes; caregivers from Visiting Angels and Home Instead; and the staff of Compassus Hospice.
Services will be held 10 AM, Friday, March 22, 2024, at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, where Carol will be laid to rest next to her partner in life. Memorials may be made to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Fayette, MO.