Carolyn Sue (Duncan) Bethards, a life-long resident of Excelsior Springs, Mo., went to be with her Heavenly Father on Monday, May 22, 2017, at the age of 67.
Born May 13, 1950, in Excelsior Springs to Ronald and Louise Duncan, Carolyn was one of six children. Carolyn accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior at the age of 26 in 1976. She graduated from Excelsior Springs High School, completed advanced courses in accounting, and worked for many years in accounting at the Excelsior Springs Hall of Waters. She married her high school sweetheart, Dennis Bethards, on June 7, 1968, prior to Dennis leaving to serve in the Vietnam War.
Carolyn loved the Lord with all her heart and dedicated her life to serving Him and others. As a loving wife, mother, mother-in-law, and Grammie, Carolyn lived life loving, praying for, and encouraging her husband, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren in their faith and personal journey with Jesus Christ. Daily, she would die to self and quietly demonstrate the role of what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus Christ; and a godly and submissive wife and mother. She loved Dennis with all of her heart and spent a lifetime loving him well – and always made sure he was on his “best behavior.” Carolyn was faithful to pray for her sons as they led their families and journeyed on their path to serve the Lord in their occupations and as deacons at their churches. She could often be found ministering to her daughters-in-law through conversations about mothering, sharing recipes, and prayer. Carolyn deeply loved and invested greatly into the lives of her grandchildren. She kept prayer journals for each of them, asking the Lord for His divine direction in each of their lives.
Carolyn was so creative and took every opportunity to leave a legacy that pointed her family to Christ. She could often be found doing Bible studies and crafts on family camping trips, emceeing talent shows and hosting tea parties in her living room, cooking up special dinosaur pancakes for breakfast, bringing grandchildren on mission trips to demonstrate service to others, teaching her granddaughters to sew and Mason how to be a mannered gentleman, found a way to attend every grandchild’s special event, and served as “base” when Papa tried to chase the grandkids. Church friends, Tom and Jolene Dobson, even once said, “That if there ever was such a thing as reincarnation, they wanted to come back to be one of Carolyn’s grandkids … she loved them so.”
As a daughter, sister, and sister-in-law, family was the heart of who Carolyn was. She, like her mother, Louise, worked hard to ensure family stayed connected. She was continually reaching out to her family to see how they were doing and how she and Dennis could serve them. Carolyn served as hostess and event coordinator of sugar cane /sourgham days, “the next generation” cookie bakes, and annual family Christmas gatherings (ensuring that no one got the same name in the gift exchange drawing and that the cousins had equal opportunity to draw Dennis’ name so they could find that “perfect gift” for their ornery uncle). She loved on her extended family, always coordinating and hosting the annual Jackson Family Reunion (this was no small feat as there are more than 200 of them now). She kept everyone’s needs ahead of hers, ensuring that Grandma Duncan always brought the sour cream rolls and banana salad; and someone made fried apple pies.
As a deacon’s wife, children’s ministry leader, and book keeper, Carolyn used her gifts and talents to bring glory to her Heavenly Father through mentoring, teaching, and serving those in her community, church family of Pisgah Baptist Church, and through mission trips domestically and abroad. Carolyn loved ministering to children. She often could be found discovering new and exciting ways to bring the Bible to life through creative object lessons and crafts for Children’s Church, planning backyard Vacation Bible Schools, and encouraging children to love God and have a personal relationship with Him. Carolyn loved ministering to women through Bible study and close relationships – and she loved getting together with church couples to socialize and have game nights. She took seriously God’s great commission to go and tell others about Jesus and often could be found planning the next mission trip to serve another church through a construction project or larger trips to Romania. And as they raised money to fund missions work, Carolyn could even be found figuring out creative ways to improve Dennis’ chances of winning the annual chili cook-off and serving up her blueberry cheesecake.
Carolyn’s life can be viewed through the verses found in Matthew 22: 37-39:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Carolyn sought after God and His purposes He had for her life, as outlined in Ephesians 2:1-10. Verse 10 states, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Carolyn is survived by her husband, Dennis Bethards, of Excelsior Springs, Mo.; son, Troy Bethards, and his wife, Monica, and their children, Alyssa and Mason of Bolivar, Mo.; son, Shilo Bethards, and his wife, Nichole, and their children, Ashton and Tia of Bonnots Mill, Mo.; her mother, Louise Duncan, of Excelsior Springs, Mo.; brother, Donald Duncan, and his wife, Kathie, of Excelsior Springs, and their children, Shelly Schmidt and Jeff Duncan; sister, Betty Williams, and her husband, Bill, of Lawson, Mo., and their children, Chris Williams and Shawna McGaugh; brother-in-law, Wayne Lancaster, of Georgetown, Texas, and his children, Craig Lancaster and Robin Grimshaw; brother, Barry Duncan, of Excelsior Springs, and his son, Braxton; brother, Richard Duncan of Excelsior Springs, and his children, Nick Frost and Hailey Duncan; sister-in-law, Debbie Bethards of Excelsior Springs; brother-in-law, Dwain Bethards, of Excelsior Springs, his children, Dawn Farmer, Matt Bethards, and Elizabeth Carr; sister-in-law, Deanna Churchwell, and her husband, Jerry, of Tulsa, Okla., and their children, Jeff Churchwell and David Churchwell; 28 great nieces and nephews; four great, great nieces and nephews; and numerous extended family members through the Jackson, Duncan, and Bethards families.
Carolyn is proceeded in death by her father, Ronald Duncan, and sister, Mary Lancaster.
Visitation will be held Thursday, May 25, 2017 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Pisgah Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs, Mo. Funeral will be held Friday, May 26, 2017 at 10 a.m. at Pisgah Baptist Church. Burial services will immediately follow at Old New Garden Cemetery. Pastor, Doug Richey, will officiate the service. Bross and Spidle Funeral Home presiding.
In lieu of flowers, a fund has been established in Carolyn Bethards’ honor for missions’ activities through Pisgah Baptist Church, 112 Pisgah Drive, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024.