Ella Caren Hobbs McPherson, 59, of Greensboro, died of gall bladder cancer on December 7th 2013.
She was born in Petersburg, VA on September 7, 1954 to the late R. Thomas Hobbs and Alice Jones Hobbs. Caren was the second of four daughters. She got to be a little sister to Cathy and a big sister to Carol and Cara. As a little girl, Caren loved art, putting on plays in the neighborhood, had a gift for playing violin, roller-skated everywhere, and enjoyed pajama parties in the family’s backyard tent. An avid reader as a child, Caren developed an extraordinary
vocabulary, vivid imagination, and became a treasured storyteller to her family and friends. In junior high school, she continued in orchestra, served on the yearbook staff, was a flag girl, in the service club Laurelletes, a candy striper at the hospital, and sang in the youth choir at church. In high school she joined New Directions, a local Christian singing group where she got to travel to numerous states and out of the country. Caren entered art shows, became a cheese ball artist working at Hickory Farms, was an arts and crafts counselor at Camp Greenleaves for mentally handicapped children, babysat and listened to Beatles music nonstop. She graduated from Burlington’s Walter Williams High School in 1972.
Caren spent her freshman year at North Carolina State University, then transferred to Elon College and while a devoted nanny to the Isley family, received a B.A degree in Elementary Education in 1976. She earned a M.S. degree in Elementary Education from NC A&T State University in 1998. Traditional teaching did not appeal to her; instead her affinity for helping the disadvantaged and people with disabilities influenced many of her professional pursuits. She was a Program Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, an Afterschool Program Director through the ARC of Greensboro, a Big Brothers/ Big Sisters Coordinator with Youth Focus, and a Special Education teacher for Guilford County Schools. She continued to maintain contact with students, clients, and families beyond the workplace and was blessed by those relationships.
She married the love of her life, Mark Alan McPherson, September 9, 1995. A few years later they were sponsored for a Pilgrimage weekend that Caren described as unforgettable, where together, she and Mark helped define their faith as a couple. They welcomed their daughter, Brooke in 1999 – their constant source of pride and joy!
God gifted Caren with multiple talents and exceptional creativity. She was a master cake decorator long before Duff’s ACE of Cakes. Perhaps you've had the pleasure of riding in her hand painted van, attending one of Caren's extravagant themed events, or reading her eloquently-written Christmas letter. Her passion and desire for many different experiences fueled a career that was exciting and varied – she was Special Events Coordinator at The Greensboro Children’s Museum, writer at Southern Bride magazine, and Class Reunion Coordinator for Alumni Affairs at UNCG. She was also an artist, caterer, event planner, social worker, office manager, editor, motivational speaker, organizational consultant, wedding planner, nanny, and even briefly, a stand-up comedian but believed her finest
achievements were as a wife and mother.
She was an active member of Centenary United Methodist Church in Greensboro and served as co-president of the Merea Fellowship. The ladies enjoyed the props and activities that Caren provided to illustrate lessons. She believed that mentoring to other women was very important. She charmed her Sunday school classes whenever she taught and delighted the congregation when she spoke for the United Methodist Women Sunday service this year. Caren’s presence there always generated enthusiasm.
Spending time with husband Mark and daughter Brooke was her greatest joy. Her love of animals was legendary and over the years she cared for turtles, anoles (all named Charlie) and other lizards, gerbils, and snakes but she cherished her dogs – Harley, Gladys, Mildred, Boko, Tooter, Alice, Violet and Wilson. She laughed easily and often,
and some of her favorite pastimes were long hot tub baths with a good book, raking autumn leaves, snow, waterfalls, drum lines (especially the N.C. A&T drum line), spectacular fireworks, Christmas lights, watching Criminal Minds, Pit Bulls and Parolees, and The Walking Dead, building elaborate sand castles by the ocean, dancing with her husband, face painting, Halloween, hiking at Grandfather Mountain, camping with friends and family, finding entertaining You Tube videos, playing her violin or autoharp, getting to know homeless people by name, Rockefeller Center at Christmas, and dressing up and wearing costumes – especially fabulous hats.
She was always listening to music and had an eclectic taste. The Beatles were her all-time favorite musical group, but she also loved Kiss, Van Halen, Billy Squier, Yanni, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Bela Fleck, Tibetan Monks chanting, ELO, The Ventures, Molasses Creek and Warren, Bodle and Allen to name a few. She loved singing alto in the
Messiah every Christmas season.
Her family will always remember and deeply appreciate the perfect blend of creativity and operational sense that Caren generously gave to the many gatherings and celebrations throughout their lives.
Caren is survived by her husband Mark, daughter Brooke and dog Wilson, bearded dragons Bob and Bernie, and fat-tailed gecko Jodee; her mom, Alice Jones Hobbs of Burlington; sister Cathy Hobbs Proffitt and husband John of Burlington; sister Carol Hobbs and husband Rick Edgar of Indonesia; sister Cara Hobbs Lewis and husband Andy of Cary; nephews and nieces Sam Martorella, Tommy and MerriAlice Hobbs, and Theo and Jane Lewis.
After Caren learned she had gall bladder cancer in July 2013, she was so touched by people all around the world, many of whom she didn’t know personally, who reached out to her with cards, gifts, songs, prayers, calls and visits. Her family is forever grateful to everyone who helped with meals, care-giving, grocery shopping, and the wonderful acts of kindness, service and generosity shared during the last few months of Caren’s life. Special thanks to Centenary United Methodist Church and to Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro. A memorial service honoring and celebrating Caren’s life will be held on Sunday afternoon, December 22nd at 3pm at Centenary United
Methodist Church, 2300 W. Friendly Ave, Greensboro, NC 27403. Caren requested that hats be worn to her service, the more fabulous the better.
Online condolences can be sent to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/carenhobbs.mcpherson or by the
guestbook under Caren’s obituary at http://www.triadcremationsociety.com.
In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to Kopper Top Life Learning Center at http://www.koppertop.org or better yet, rescue a pet and give it a good home. Donations can also be made to Centenary United Methodist Church.
Centenary United Methodist Church Directions