A Tribute to Carrel, from Laurel Ulrich

Carrel Hilton and her sister Kathy were among the first members of Cambridge 1 ward that I met when my husband and I arrived in Boston in September 1960.  She was then a vibrant teen-ager, unselfconsciously beautiful and more welcoming than one might expect from a young woman who had seen a constant procession of newcomers come and go through the Ward.  My more detailed memories pick up ten years later, after Carrel had married one of those newcomers, Garret Sheldon, who had come from Alaska to study at MIT.

In the mid 1970s, Carrel and Garret and their lively little boys moved into a big old house in Arlington where Exponent II held late-night proofreading and paste-up parties for the paper.  I remember Carrel as the calm presence in the midst of chattering women getting things done. My deepest memories, however, are of her earnest, thoughtful, and wonderfully confident explorations of Mormon theology at all-night slumber parties and retreats.  To me, she seemed both deeply spiritual and systematic, able to make sense out of what other people might have considered flights of fancy. For her, ideas were never just ideas.  She brought a practical “can-do” spirit into our meandering explorations.  (I’m thinking right now of all those discussions we had about temple garments.  As I recall, she was the driving force behind the two-piece revolution). 

I can’t imagine Mormon Sisters, Exponent, or indeed the broader “retreat” movement that continues to blossom in many parts of the U.S. without Carrel’s “let’s do it” leadership. That is why my most precious memory right now is of being with her at the Northwest retreat near Seattle not so long ago.  I think of her beautiful white hair, even more lovely than her youthful reddish brown, and her calm, thoughtful, clear-eyed, and honest commentary, a gift that endures.

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2 Responses

  1. Kay Healey says:

    Love your tribute. When and where are these retreats in the west? I have been a subscriber of Expo2 since the first issue. I went to a few retreats in Utah but haven’t heard of them for decades since. I would have gone to the Seattle or Colorado retreats if I’d heard of them. Why does Expo 2 only mention the east coast retreats? I feel so alone being the only feminist outspoken liahona type member of the ward. My bishop says I add diversity even though I am just an older white member! I go to the Unitarian church once every month or two.

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