January 23, 1943 ~ April 9, 2016
Carol was born in Caldwell, KS, in the midst of WWII. Her father, Lt. Col. Ernest Frank Jenista, was serving overseas at the time of her birth, so she entered the world in the sole care of her wartime mother, Jennie Ruth (Karesh) Jenista. Carol’s father returned home from Europe when she was two years old, having earned a Purple Heart and French Croix de Guerre for his heroic service to our country. Carol was always very proud of her father—her “daddy.”
Growing up in Caldwell instilled Carol with a strong sense of home, a powerful work ethic and a deep appreciation for her Bohemian (Czech) heritage. In the early 60s, she headed off to the “big city” of Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas. Her daddy told her that he’d pay for four years of college—and four years only! So she had to pick a major quickly. On a whim, she chose education, primarily because the degree required no foreign language courses.
As it turns out, Carol would turn her hastily chosen degree into a remarkable teaching career, touching the lives of thousands of students with her enthusiasm, her creativity and her untamable love for learning. She guided her students through the great literary masters: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Twain, Poe and so many more. She inspired high school kids to diagram sentences with gusto, to edit yearbook copy with eagle eyes, and to celebrate the beauty, intricacy and nonsensical nature of the English language. Carol invested her heart and soul into her students for nearly 50 years, retiring only when a cancer diagnosis forced her to slow down a bit…just a little bit.
Carol was truly an extraordinary teacher, but she was also an amazing wife, mother and friend. Somehow, she found time for everyone. She had a true servant heart and was always looking for opportunities to lend a hand, to share someone’s burden and to bring joy to other people’s lives. In her “retirement,” she volunteered for the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and the Czech-Slovak Club of Kansas City. Carol also managed the wheat farm that had been passed down through her family for a century, and she braved the digital world by teaching an online technical writing course for Missouri State University.
An extremely independent and self-sufficient woman, Carol always had numerous projects in motion at any given time. Whether building a deck with her own two hands, installing a koi pond or sewing a bed-size quilt, she had the determination, physical strength and talent to bring her ideas to life. She taught her children and grandchildren to dream big and to work hard to achieve those dreams.
Carol was a woman of profound faith, and she lived that faith quietly and humbly through her everyday kindness and compassion for others. She never wanted to be the center of attention, but she always lit up a room. She was proudly thrifty but also abundantly generous with her time, talents and treasure. She never tried to be a “big deal,” but through her service to others, she was such a big deal to those who knew and loved her. Words cannot express how much her family and friends will miss her presence in our lives. We cannot wait to meet her again in Paradise.
Carol was preceded in death by her parents, Ernest and Jennie Jenista, and her brothers, Dwain Jenista and David Jenista. She is survived by her husband of 41 years, Paul Jacobson; her daughters, Ellen Pantaenius and Sarah Nord; her stepchildren, George Jacobson and Ruth Jacobson; and by a wonderful gaggle of grandchildren. She leaves with us a legacy of hope, faith, courage and good humor that will forever shape our lives.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that contributions be made in Carol’s name to the Lutheran High School of Kansas City to be used for student scholarships.
A memorial graveside service will be held 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 21, 2016 at the Czechoslovakian Cemetery, Caldwell, Kansas.