TILTON — Carol Marie Stewart Center, 54, a longtime resident of Tilton, passed away on Sept. 9, 2019, at the Concord Hospice House after battling cancer. She was surrounded by music and the love and warmth of family and friends.
Carol was born in Bangor, Maine, on Jan. 18, 1965, to father Robert Stewart and mother Jeannette (Fortier) Stewart. She was from a mixed family with four older brothers and one older sister.
As a kid, Carol loved drawing — her artwork was often featured in her school yearbooks. She also enjoyed animals, especially horses, and loved visiting her grandmother’s farm each summer in Haynesville, Maine. She and her friends went on adventures like collecting bottles for change or walking miles to the local roller skating rink where Carol was an excellent skater. Her family worked for Fiesta Shows and would travel to many fairs and festivals all over New England. Carol had many fascinating tales from that time, like once being bitten by a baby mountain lion, camping out in bounce houses, or stealing her parents’ car to explore whichever new city they were in.
At 14, her family moved to Nashua. Carol was an old soul. At only 16, she lied about her age to get her own apartment. She put herself through night school to receive her high school diploma early and met her first husband, Paul Center, a year later. They married in 1984 and had two daughters together.
Carol was a jack-of-all-trades. She attended the Paul Mitchell School for hair design but left early when she had her first child. She continued to give all of her loved ones free haircuts for the next 35 years. When her children were young, Carol was a stay-at-home-mom, but also received her associate’s degree in Accounting during that time. Later, Carol would spend most of her career in the medical profession as an LNA, phlebotomist, medical assistant, and unit coordinator of a hospital telemetry floor. She also had her commercial driver’s license and spent a few years driving manual school buses and even a dump truck for her friend’s construction company. She was very proud of a time where she had to parallel park a bus full of loud middle-schoolers. In the six years before her passing, Carol could be found managing the Laconia Antique Center in Laconia.
What Carol was most of all was a caregiver. That is her legacy. She took in several teenagers from broken homes and young adults trying to get by. She took in women escaping poor relationships and friends looking for a second chance. She had many patients she lovingly cared for over the years who always loved her blunt and sarcastic sense of humor. But mostly she cared for those closest to her.
From 1992 to 1995, Carol’s first husband battled brain cancer. Carol never left his side. When he passed away, Carol was only 30-years-old. She was left a single mother with two young kids to care for. She was a unique and loving mother to her girls and, when asked, said that they were her greatest accomplishment.
Later, Carol met her second spouse, John Burpee. They enjoyed many hobbies together, like visiting Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, exploring the oceans and lakes of New Hampshire, dancing, camping, cooking, and cheering on the Patriots. In 2015, John received a liver transplant after battling liver disease. Carol again lovingly cared for a sick partner. They enjoyed 20 years together until his passing in February 2019. She always cared without complaint, with grace, with love and that stubborn and funny sense of humor all those around her grew to love.
When Carol wasn’t working or caring for her loved ones, she could be found crafting or antiquing while listening to rock 'n' roll, enjoying the company of her five grandchildren, or sitting with a piping hot cup of her favorite coffee, with her favorite cream, watching the news or chatting with a friend. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
Carol was predeceased by her father, Robert Stewart (1984); her first husband, Paul Center (1995); father-in-law Alden Center (2005); mother-in-law Barbara Center (2014); sister-in-law Deborah Fortier (2016); brother Paul (“Bobby”) Buxton (2017); sister-in-law Rena Buxton (2018); and spouse John Burpee (2019).
She leaves behind her mother, Jeannette (Fortier) Stewart of Nashua; daughters Nicole Center and her spouse, Ryan Schneider, of Gilmanton and Danielle Center and her spouse, Kevin Davis, of Belmont; brothers Brent Stewart and his wife, Beverly Stewart, of Dexter, Maine, Stanley Fortier of Nashua, and Gerald Buxton of Nashua; sister Shelly Stewart of Bridgewater; her beloved sisters-in-law, Gail, Lauren, Rebecca, and Claudia; and five beloved grandchildren, Calvin, Colby, Charlotte, Meera, and Caroline; as well as many dear nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
There will be a Celebration of Carol’s Life on Monday, Sept. 16, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Pitman’s Freight Room, 94 New Salem St., Laconia.
Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 164 Pleasant St., Laconia, is assisting the family with the arrangements. For more information and to view an online memorial, go to www.wilkinsonbeane.com.