At her core, Carolyn Jean Williams always was a teacher.She did it in obvious ways, working decades teaching for the Gary Community School Corporation. She did it in subtler ways, through lifelong work as a choir member and volunteer at St. Timothy Community Church and her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She did it as a loving mother, supportive sister and devoted grandparent, sacrificing to make sure her siblings, child and grandchildren had everything she could possibly give. Always, her bright smile and open heart highlighted her devotion to God and the principles of hard work and humility that stood at the core of her being. On March 22, 2020, Carolyn passed on to the next life at age 81, leaving this world a little poorer. Born to parents Fred and Leona McClellan, she was raised in the small town of Indianola, Pa., attending Oakmont High School and Cheyney State College (later renamed Cheyney University), then a renowned historically black school for teachers. In the early 1960s, she came to Gary to work as a teacher, where she met and married Chuck Deggans, father to her son Eric Deggans. Though the marriage didn't last, Carolyn and Chuck remained friends. She sacrificed to send Eric to private middle and high schools in Hammond and Merrillville, teaching him that quality education was the key to success in life. In 1990; she married a fellow English teacher, West Side High School instructor Eulis H. Williams. The two shared 10 happy years before his passing in 2000. Carolyn retired as a teacher in 2010 after 49 years of service, including many years at Edison Middle School. Beyond family, her three biggest loves in life were her church, her music and her sorority. Carolyn lent her voice as lead soloist in choirs at St. Timothy Church for nearly 60 years. Carolyn was a golden, life member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and active in its Gamma Psi Omega chapter in Gary, including its nationally-known Ivy Notes choral ensemble. Carolyn was preceded in death by both parents; husband Eulis Williams; sisters Winifred McClellan and Cynthia Somerville; brothers Maurice McClellan and Fred McClellan; and Chuck Deggans. She is survived by her son, Eric Deggans; grandchildren Zoe, Jessica, Tobias and Marcus Deggans; stepdaughter Natasha Williams; nephews Marcus McClellan, Martin McClellan and Jamal Somerville; brother-in-law Benjamin Williams and his wife Joann Williams. Visitation will be Saturday March 28, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Timothy Community Church, 1600 West 25th Avenue, Gary, IN 46404. People will be admitted to the sanctuary in small groups of less than 10 people, in accordance with Covid-19 social distancing guidelines. The funeral, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, will be private on site, but viewable online at https://sttimothychurch.org/events/church-announcements/.In lieu of flowers, the family asks that mourners send donations in Carolyn Williams' name to St. Timothy's Community Church, 1600 West 25th Avenue, Gary, IN 46404 or Alpha Kappa Alpha's Gamma Psi Omega Chapter, P.O. Box 64759, Gary, IN 46401.
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Published in Post-Tribune from Mar. 26 to Mar. 27, 2020.