By Sharon Mager
SEYMOUR, Tenn.— Carolyn J. Chavez passed away at the age of 73 on Jan. 4. She was the wife of Richard Chavez, who pastored Burtonsville Baptist Church for over 25 years, from 1982 to 2007.
In addition to serving as a ministry partner with Richard, Carolyn was very active at Burtonsville Baptist Church, including teaching an adult Sunday School class, singing in the choir and participating in women’s ministries. She enjoyed being with people and had fun planning outreach events, including the church’s annual Halloween Alternative. Years ago, Carolyn and Richard used to lead marriage conferences for the Southern Baptist Convention.
In addition to her role at church, Carolyn worked as an office manager for an Ophthalmology office and was active in the community, serving as a board member of the Laurel Pregnancy Center.
“She had a magnetic personality,” Richard said, adding that he also believed his wife was, “… the best Sunday School teacher in the country.”
When she and her husband moved to Tennessee, she continued serving in several ministries at Seymour First Baptist Church.
In her spare time, she enjoyed crafting, gardening, and cooking. Several friends shared online through the Atchley Funeral Home website, that Carolyn blessed them with her wonderful cooking and baking—including some “great apple pie.” She was a top-notch cook, Richard agreed.
Many shared of the impact Carolyn and her husband Richard have had on their lives. Linda Dillon wrote, “I am so grateful for Carolyn’s friendship. She and Dick led me to the Lord and mentored me for so many years. They came alongside me as a single mother and were always available to help and guide me whenever I needed them. They did the same for so many others too!”
Several people referred to Carolyn’s strength during her illness, her generous spirit and her “spunkiness.”
Richard said his wife was indeed energetic and outgoing and she was evangelistic in every way, always sharing her faith. She shared Jesus with those who didn’t know Him and urged others who had a relationship with Christ to walk deeper in their faith journey.
Even as she knew death was approaching, Carolyn continued to share her faith with those around her, including her caregivers. She was appreciative to all who helped her and even had what she called, “a gathering of angels,” inviting over 60 people to visit so she could thank them for their support and encourage them. She also wrote many letters to people before she died.
In her last evangelistic ministry before her death, Carolyn prepared the Bible verses and songs for her funeral and asked her husband to preach her funeral and share the Gospel. They began the funeral with Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which includes the treasured words, “To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under the sun. A time to be born and a time to die…”, and included several other powerful verses throughout the service.
The love of the Burtonsville Church family and the Seymour First Baptist Church family has been overwhelmingly wonderful, Richard said. Church members from Seymour had a luncheon for Carolyn, then a barbecue for those not able to attend in the afternoon. During the afternoon luncheon, several of the men from the church took Richard to lunch.
“We were blessed,” he said. Because of Carolyn, Seymour First Baptist Church has started a new ministry to the terminally ill.
About 15 people from Burtonsville Baptist Church traveled to Tennessee to visit the couple before Carolyn’s death, and some attended the funeral. At her request, Burtonsville Baptist Church Member Dave Churchman sang “To God be the Glory” at the funeral. Other Burtonsville members will be visiting Richard soon. “Carolyn would have loved it,” Richard said, adding that his wife gave of herself and even in the last days, was more concerned for him than for herself.
Carolyn was preceded in death by her mother and father and is survived by her husband, two adopted boys, and grandchildren, as well as a sister, Patricia Nichols.
A funeral service was held at Atchley’s Seymour Chapel with interment in Atchley’s Seymour Memory Gardens. Online condolences may be made at www.atchleyfuneralhome.com.
Carolyn’s request was that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Seymour FBC Terminal Illness Ministry, 11621 Chapman Hwy, Seymour, TN 37865; (865) 577-1954.