School, community mourn loss of Carbondale artist, teacher |

School, community mourn loss of Carbondale artist, teacher

Carol Rothrock

CARBONDALE – Students and staff at the Carbondale Community School, as well as the larger community, are mourning the unexpected death this week of Carol Rothrock, a beloved art teacher at the school for the past four years and an accomplished artist by her own right.

Rothrock passed away early Tuesday, Jan. 5, after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer around Thanksgiving. She was 56.

“It’s been pretty hard on the kids, and the parents and the teachers,” CCS Principal Tom Penzel said. “She just had a quiet presence about her, and a great love of art, and getting kids excited about art.”

Students at the K-8 charter school have been working on a memorial tree with artwork and writings dedicated to Rothrock, and her life partner, Gerry Michel. The tree will adorn the front entry for a memorial service that’s planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at the school. The community is invited to attend.

Rothrock was a regular in the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities Valley Visual Art Show each year, and many of her paintings hang in the offices of Amore Realty on Main Street in Carbondale.

She started the annual Artist Studio Tour as a fundraiser for CCS, where her youngest son, Colt, attends school. The Studio Tour has since developed into a valleywide event that continues to grow.

“She definitely had an incredible way of interpreting the natural world with her hands, and inspired the kids by example,” said fellow teacher and friend Nannette Weinhold. “It was so great that the kids could have an art teacher who was really an artist.”

Michel, an artist and art teacher himself, plans to take over art instruction at CCS, Weinhold said, adding that Rothrock had bought a ton of clay, literally, and had several projects in mind for the spring semester.

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