Carolyn F. Lambert
Carolyn Faye Lambert, former First Lady of Baker University, passed away July 17, 2013 with her family gathered around her bed.
Born on December 2, 1940 to Reverend Willard and Thelma Bright in Garden City, Missouri, she moved with her family to Lee’s Summit where her father was pastor of First Baptist Church and where she and her sisters learned the advantages and challenges of being preacher’s kids. Hers was a happy childhood there and at a very early age she forged friendships which endured for life.
Graduating from Lee’s Summit High School in 1959, Carolyn entered William Jewell College and earned an AB degree in 1965 and continued graduate studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg. A pioneer in teaching children with learning disabilities, she established the Kansas City School District’s first LD Class, located at the Kensington School. She later worked with the learning disabled in Liberty.
On December 27, 1969 she married Captain Daniel M. Lambert and after a brief stint as an Army wife moved with Dan to Liberty where he had joined the administrative staff of William Jewell College. Carolyn continued teaching but increasingly made private time a priority as Kristie and then Buzz expanded the family circle. She was a caring mother always there when needed, but encouraging her children to face life directly with courage and faith.
In 1987 the family moved to Baldwin City, Kansas, where Dan became president of Baker University and Carolyn began 19 years of service as the University’s First Lady. She quickly embraced the university’s traditions and honored those in her role as Baker’s chief volunteer; she was an enthusiastic fan of Wildcat athletics, but took great pride in the Parmentors, the student service group she initiated with Dean Nancy Richard. Her quiet elegance was apparent in the many public events she planned; she oversaw the design and decoration of the reception facility of the president’s home, ensuring that it would be an appropriate venue for the university’s friend and fund-raising activities. This facility now bears her name, a reminder of her indelible legacy to generations of Baker’s students and alumni.
Carolyn was also engaged in the larger community, serving on the Board of Douglas County CASA and supporting many, many other worthy causes in Baldwin City and Lawrence. She was made an honorary Baker Alumna in 1990 and was honored by the Women’s Foundation of Kansas City in 1999.
Her passion for life is instilled in her children and reflected in each of her seven grandchildren. She enjoyed life to the fullest, always eager for a new adventure. She relished travel with the Wandering Wildcats and the friendships which would inevitable develop from it. But her favorite destination was Hilton Head, S.C., which offered wonderful memories of times with family and friends. There, those fortunate enough to share her journey experienced the purest form of her joy for life, her compassion, her contagious humor, and her capacity for unconditional love.
She is survived by Dan, her husband and partner for 44 years; daughter, Kristian (children Tucker, Paige and Henry) of Overland Park; son, Buzz (Robin, children Pierce, Peyton, Cameron and Hannah) of Hartfield; and sister, Wilma Dee (Richard, children Kenton, Chris and Michelle) of Overland Park. She is predeceased by her parents and a sister, Nancy (daughter Ann).
The family extends its sincere appreciation to the staff of the Heritage of Overland Park for its loving care of Carolyn over the past year and to the associates of the VITAS Hospice Care Unit who were a compassionate and spiritual presence in Carolyn’s last hours.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations in Carolyn’s name to the Dan and Carolyn Lambert Endowed Scholarship Fund, Baker University, Box 65, Baldwin City, KS 66006.