Our Sweet Caroline was born Caroline Patricia (Caron) Zimmel on February 7, 1965, at Pawtucket Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to Patricia Eileen (McPhillips) Caron and Rene Victor Caron. She spent her childhood in Pawtucket in the “big yellow house” on Crescent Road attending Potters and Goff schools and graduating from Tolman High School in 1983. Throughout her youth she always had many friends from the local neighborhood, school, or through ECC – the Episcopal Conference Center where she formed lifelong friendships. She attended Northeastern University in Boston with her younger sister, Barbara by her side, both studying business, with Caroline graduating in 1988. It was in Boston where she developed a love for the Red Sox, Patriots, shopping and James Taylor.
After graduating , she began a career in insurance, working for various companies over her 30 years as an Insurance Underwriter. The insurance industry would bring her to Connecticut where she would meet the love of her life, John Zimmel. They would marry in June of 1999 and buy and settle into a beautiful home in Oxford, Ct. Caroline loved that house. It was a converted church – so unique and beautiful – just like her. It was in this house that Caroline and John made a home and life together. Caroline embraced rural living, enjoying the beautiful bucolic setting – so different from Pawtucket and Boston. She would love to host Easter for her family in this house – the hostess with the mostest – setting the most beautiful table you could imagine with gorgeous china, fine linens, and fresh flowers – she loved that stuff. She would also bring out bunny ears and place them on a small statue for all the kids (and adults) to enjoy. She lived up to her name – Bunny.
She also embraced a spiritual life there, becoming involved in the local Episcopal Church as a Eucharistic minister and youth leader. She found both purpose and many life-long friends in this role, continuing to stay in touch as all of their lives changed.
It was also in this home that Caroline and John would begin to develop many interests and endeavours which would stay with them throughout their time together. They bought their first boat at this point, starting them on a journey that would eventually become their lifestyle. They would love to go out on summer days enjoying the beautiful waters of Connecticut and Rhode Island with family and friends. They loved to go to Hamburg Cove on the Connecticut River, drop anchor and just float and have fun with the people they loved. They also loved their annual week on Block Island with her sisters Barbara and Jean and their families and an ever-expanding group of friends- dinking around New Harbor, going to Scotch Beach, then sushi at the Oar. That’s when her summer was complete.
In Oxford, Caroline and John also started their extensive world globe-trotting. Caroline, with John by her side, was truly a world traveler. She loved to read about, plan, and go on some of the most interesting trips one could imagine: China, Prague, India, Turkey, Costa Rica, British Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Vail, Bermuda, England, Ireland, France, Italy, Greece. She loved travel so much that eventually she would start an online travel agency! So very her!
In 2017, Caroline and John turned their eyes southward to warmer climes as they traded their Oxford house for a beautiful, brickfront, southern manse in Charlotte, NC. It was so very Caroline – beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, welcoming, class. She embraced the southern friendly lifestyle, making friends quickly and opening her home to new friends, and family from the north eager to visit. She hosted a grand Thanksgiving weekend for her sisters and their families, and many other additional northern friends – even before her home was fully furnished! They would spend winters in that beautiful home and summers on their final boat together, Miss Demeanor in Deep River, CT – which she proclaimed as “her happy place”.
Caroline – as anyone who knew her – was one of a kind. She was smart, fashionable, hard-working, neat, funny, ironic, strong, emotional, beautiful. She loved travel, the Patriots, the Red Sox, visors, baseball hats, nice handbags, nice sunglasses, nice cars, nice restaurants, secondhand shops, fresh flowers on the table, mashed potatoes, dragonfly jewelry, James Taylor, Dire Straits, fun summer novels, her monkey lamp, her boat, and sunset trips on the whaler. She was also fiercely loyal. She would make friends and keep up with them for her entire life. She was always planning events to meet with friends and family from near and far and she would do it! Her dance card was always full. She had a lot going on.
But mostly, she loved. She loved her John, Nemo, and her sisters. She loved her nieces, nephews, brothers in law, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and little dogs that just showed up at her house.
And that is how she lived out her life. On the Miss Demeanor, with her beloved Nemo, talking with John on the phone, doing laundry, cleaning the boat for him, working late, listening to music on her phone, reading a Elin Hildebrand novel, chatting with Jean and Barbara about stupid, funny things, making plans to get together with them when she went south, planning on meeting her childhood friend Jan the next day and visiting her Uncle Ed in a nursing home, looking forward to a get together with dock friends, and awaiting her John’s return. Simply, she was in her “Happy Place”.
Lovingly written by her sister, Jean
Caroline is survived by her husband, John, her sisters Jean Kennedy and Barbara Winsor, their husbands, George Kennedy and Gregory Winsor, and all their children, George Kennedy III, Alexander Kennedy, Charlotte (girly-girl) Kennedy, god-daughter, Meredith Winsor, and Mitchell and Maxwell Winsor.
She is also survived by her brothers in law, Joseph Zimmel and Gerome Zimmel, and spouses Sheryl and Linda and nieces and nephews Jennifer Beaver, Jaqueline Lee, Alicia Zimmel, Katherine Zimmel, Andrew Zimmel, John Zimmel, Christopher Zimmel, and Michael Zimmel.
And of course, she is survived by aunts, uncles, cousins, and many dear and furry friends.
She is preceded in death by her sister-in-law, Jane Zimmel.
Calling hours will be held on Wednesday September 29, 2021, from 4:00pm-8:00pm at Memorial Funeral Home 375 Broadway in Newport.
Her funeral will be held on Thursday September 30, 2021 at 11:00 am at St. Columba Berkeley Chapel 55 Vaucluse Avenue in Middletown, RI.
Burial will be at Newport Memorial Park in Middletown.
Donations can be made in Caroline and Nemo’s name to www.vintagepetrescue.org