ABLE lost a dedicated Board member, valued colleague and beloved friend with the death Sept. 2 of Dr. Carol Cottrill, at the age of 80. It’s possible, given enough time and space, to list all of her contributions to her community and well beyond, but the printed word is inadequate to express the personality, generosity, spirituality and commitment Carol brought to everything she did.
Carol was a pediatric cardiologist with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and fellowship at the University of Kentucky. She was one of only three women in her medical school class and was the only pediatric cardiology fellow to ever complete training at the UK Medical Center. She later served as the director of the Pediatric ICU at UK for 16 years. She held the rank of Professor of Pediatrics at UK. She was also affiliated with Baptist Health Lexington.
In addition to her Lexington practice, Carol regularly conducted clinics in Eastern Kentucky, where people didn’t otherwise have access to her specialty.
Carol was also a prolific author of papers published in distinguished medical journals.
She went to college and medical school after she had four children, one of who had heart disease. She shared child care with a neighbor to keep her expenses down.
Carol ultimately cared for infants and children with heart problems for more than 45 years. For many years she continued to practice even though confined to a wheelchair as a result of severe arthritis. She never let her own challenges get in the way of her caring for others.
Throughout her career, Carol and her husband, Dr. Tom Rolfes – Professor of Religion at UK – reached out to help children in serious need. They eventually cared for about 30 foster children in need of medical care. Many came from outside the U.S., who would not have survived without their help.
Carol was invaluable to ABLE. She acquired medications, medical equipment and many other supplies to support ABLE mission trips involving clinics and orphanages. When Carol asked for items to help others, it was impossible to turn her down. She was a forceful, fierce advocate for people in need – particularly children.
In spite of her health problems and physical limitations, Carol maintained a schedule that would have exhausted anyone half her age. She attended every charitable function imaginable and was genuinely apologetic when conflicts kept her from participating.
Carol was an extremely religious person and was a longtime member of Holy Spirit Parish/Catholic Newman Center, at the University of Kentucky. In 2008 she received the Lumen Christi Award – national recognition for an individual who “shines the light of Christ in their faith communities.”
In addition to ABLE, Carol served and supported many other organizations. She was particularly devoted to Children of the Americas – a Lexington-based organization that enhances the health and well-being of women and children in under-served developing nations. She served on COTA’s Board and made many trips to Guatemala to provide health care.
She was a strong supporter of the Catholic parishes in Lexington who join forces annually to build a Habitat for Humanity house. Even after writing an extremely generous check, she would say, “I’m so sorry it can’t be more.”
All of us at ABLE are devastated by Carol’s loss and our thoughts and prayers are with all of her family and friends who loved her so dearly.