Carol Van Gunten

Carol Van Gunten

PUNTA GORDA, FL—Carol Van Gunten passed away on September 21, 2022. She was 86.

Carol started her teaching career after graduating from Ohio State in 1957. In just two years it became obvious that she was an exceedingly effective teacher. The school board took notice and they promoted her to the position of supervising teacher for the entire county. This was never done before to someone with so little experience.

She retained that position until she stopped teaching because she wanted to become a stay at home mother.

She moved to Annapolis, Md., and became involved in community affairs including creating a local garden club.

She loved plants and flowers, and always had fresh flowers in her house. She could grow anything and carried snippers in her purse to grab a cutting off of any plant that caught her attention. There were awkward moments when the plant owner happened to be watching.

Annapolis is a beautiful colonial city but Carol decided that the city’s dismal Christmas decorations needed to be done totally differently. She had the idea of getting all the garden clubs in the Annapolis area to work together in a massive effort and take over the outside Christmas decorations of downtown Annapolis.

She convinced the garden clubs to take on the project. She convinced the mayor of Annapolis to go along with the idea. Carol was put in charge of the project.

It was huge, with hundreds of tipsy garden clubbers drinking wine and working all night long stuffing their old panty hoses with fresh laurel and pine bows trying to make long garlands for the store fronts.

It was a spectacular success. The media picked up on the story and it was broadcast over the entire Annapolis, Washington, and Baltimore viewing area.

The mayor interviewed Carol on television and he gave her full credit.

That procedure that she created for decorating Annapolis is still being used today- more than 50 years later.

Carol enjoyed water activities and the family often went on extended cruises on their sailboat. She liked them so much, she started her own company chartering crewed sailboats in the Virgin Islands. She called it “Nautical Adventures.”

She had a lot of fun running her company and was a very familiar face in Roadtown, VI, where the fleet was located. She ended up as the number three charter broker in the U.S.

She had a huge talent—as an interior decorator.

She had an incredible ability to match color shades and she could walk around, pick up a handful of totally disconnected things, throw the mess on a table, slide the things this way and that and POP. The mess became a beautiful table or wall decoration. It was magic.

In her mid 40s she decided she wanted to try her hand at selling real estate. She knew nothing about real estate. But she knew how to treat people and had a good eye for how things should look.

It didn’t take her long—five years later she was one of the top real estate agents in the Annapolis area.

Almost every year she won the top prize offered by her company for outstanding sales achievement. She remained in that status until she retired.

She moved to Kilmarnock in 1999 and became heavily involved in the activities of the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club.

She ran many yacht club cruising events and served as cruise director of the club.

Her lifelong passion for playing bridge was frequently exercised with groups at home and at the club.

After retiring from real estate, Carol changed to a completely new lifestyle. She called it “Living the Dream.”

She had a big old sailboat, named after her, called the Carolina. And for the next 25 years almost every year around the middle of October she would pack that boat full and head south, proceeding down the east coast to Florida and the Bahamas.

She would spend the winter sailing among the islands of the Bahamas, then come back north in the spring to spend her summers on the Chesapeake Bay.

Carol loved life on the boat and often said she would like to sell the house and just live on the boat.

In 2016, the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club presented Carol the  “Helmsmanship Award” in recognition of her mariner skills and experience.

The total miles she sailed during this period was equal to the distance of three times around the world. Carol lived her dream.

Carol spent the last five years of her life in Punta Gorda, Florida, to be near her children.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Orland Van Gunten; daughter, Alison Reed; granddaughters, Erin Reed and Whitney Marchese; and great-grandsons, Kian Marchese and Hudson Marchese.

Carol was a kind and loving person. She was extremely generous. If you admired something she had, she would give it to you even if she loved it. Never moody, always fun to be around. You always enjoyed her company and she enjoyed yours.

She made you happy—please remember her that way.