Watchung, NJ – Carol Suzanne Droege (Van Lingen) departed this life on Sunday morning September 4, 2022, her birthday, surrounded by her loving family. Born September 4, 1963, Carol grew up in Marlborough, Massachusetts and through all of her life’s journeys, she was always foremost a proud Marlborough Panther.
Carol was always first to give her time, the first to lead and the first to engage, in her community and all through high school. She loved being a cheerleader. She was always eager to organize and participate in school events and fundraisers, bringing old friends and new friends together. To this day, Carol cherished her role as co-organizer of her Class of ’81 reunions committee – and in her final weeks, was actively helping to plan this year’s event.
Carol was the honored daughter of Emma Cook and her husband Ron, who passed away in 2013. Emmy and Ron’s home was built with an abundance of love for all of their children, and he was very special to Carol, her brother and sister. Some of Carol’s warmest memories were of the many wonderful times spent with them at their beloved camp in Fryeburg, Maine, and the endless stories of growing up with her family and many lifelong friends in her Clinton Street neighborhood. She adored being Aunt to Mackenzie, Austin, Brandon and Haley, with all of whom she shared an amazing relationship.
Those close to Carol understood that she considered her greatest, proudest achievements – and her true legacy – to be her beautiful daughters, Paige and Sophia, whom she had with her first husband, Kendal Osbourne. They are her treasures, her deepest source of pride and admiration – for the world they gave her, and the amazing people they have become.
Carol’s gift is her legacy of joy and love that will endure for all time in the hearts of all who were lucky to have known her, who have witnessed her tireless and giddy pursuit of small moment and big adventures. She could find tranquility and inspiration in the unlikeliness of corners, and the next moment allow herself to be overwhelmed with the awe and spectacle of endless weekends in Manhattan. She has touched so many – neighborhood and high school friends, the youth groups from her days at Westminster Presbyterian Church, clients and co-workers from her days managing businesses and churches, to the devoted community she has fostered, and who have gathered around to support and pray for her in recent weeks at the Wilson Memorial Church. She loved, and was loved by so many.
Her latest and final chapter in her life was an enriching and deeply happy one, living an artist’s life with her adoring husband Michael Droege. Together, they created an extraordinary accumulation of love and joy.
It will be impossible to measure the loss of Carol, but in our grief we look to those closest to her and see lasting tributes. Carol is survived by her mother Emma, her children, Paige and Sophia Osbourne, Taylor, Jackson, and Calvin Droege, her brother Theo, his wife Kara and children Mackenzie and Austin, to whom Carol was Godmother, of Uxbridge, Ma, her sister Claudine White and her husband Jay of Fort Pierce, Fl., and their children Brandon and Haley. And there are countless more family and friends.
A celebration of her life will be held at the Wilson Memorial Church in Watchung, New Jersey on September 24 at 11:00am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice in Princeton, New Jersey, a wonderful organization that supports Carol’s passion of full inclusion and love for the LGBTQIA+ community.