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Proud to have called her a friend

Jul 15, 2012 - By Randy Tucker

I became aware of Carolyn B. Tyler as a kid, then worked with her as a colleague.

For as long as I can remember, Carolyn Tyler was an integral part of Fremont County news media.

As a child I read The Ranger every summer when we visited my grandparents. Carolyn's work was already prominent on the small pages of the old-style Ranger format.

Do you remember the smaller, tabloid style paper? It reminded me of a miniature version of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News.

Carolyn witnessed a multitude of changes in the world of newspapers since her arrival in 1961 and constantly sought to improve both the quality of the paper and her own work throughout her long life and career.

Carolyn lost a battle with pneumonia last week. She was familiar with physical ailments, suffering the effects of polio for most of her life, but you barely noticed her wheelchair and other physical aids.

I first met Carolyn in 1991 when she asked me to work on her Macintosh computer. In spite of her advancing age, she always dabbled in technology. Her Macintosh was the first one I ever worked on.

In those days there weren't any "official" Apple dealers anywhere close. I worked on Apples and clones, and one evening Carolyn called and asked me to upgrade her Mac.

She lived just a couple of blocks west of our old house on Eastview Drive, near Teter Park.

Carolyn always asked me to bring the kids when I worked on her computer.

That first job consisted of doubling the memory on what we now call a "Mac Classic." Apple designed its computers in those days like the boys in Detroit designed cars, just complex enough to require a trained technician.

Carolyn had a sheet of paper with brief instructions on how to do the upgrade. You had to have a specialized Torx driver just to open up the box. I purchased a T-20 Torx and a standard screwdriver, cut the Torx near the handle and ground the tip off the screwdriver, welded them together, and used the tool to open the back of the Mac.

The only other tools needed were a pair of nail clippers and a soldering iron. I bought all three, along with son Brian and daughter Staci to Carolyn's house one evening and started the upgrade.

Carolyn had a closet in her main hall, full of unique children's toys. She let my children dig through the shelves, and they emerged with some engaging diversions. The "Wheel-O" was their favorite. It is a magnetic wheel that rolls back and forth on a wire handle. The Wheelo and Etch-a-Sketch kept them fascinated.

With the kids entertained, Carolyn sat next to the small table I was working on. I cut a couple of wires, pulled an old memory chip, and replaced it with the new one. The kit required soldering a small-gauge wire from one chip on the circuit board to another.

The entire process took about 20 minutes.I reassembled the Mac, then sat with baited breath as Carolyn fired the machine up again. I don't think she took a breath herself for the 90 seconds that we waited before the smiling Apple icon and the old "clunk" sounded to indicate her system was up and running -- with twice the memory.

She was giddy with excitement.

That's the Carolyn I'll always remember. A woman who wasn't dealt the best hand physically but wasn't fazed by it. A person with the inquisitive nature of a child but with a bulldog's tenacity when she thought someone was evading a question or stretching the truth as she reported news in Fremont County for more than five decades.

Over the years the kids and I made many trips to the Tyler residence. Carolyn had the first wireless mouse and wireless keyboard I ever worked on. Her little dogs were sometimes a challenge, as the latest pup would occasionally take off with a key component or set of instructions.

In the course of my work Carolyn and I would talk about a wide range of subjects. She was knowledgeable on myriad topics and conversant on each one.

She kept track of things as well. Sometimes the phone would ring in the evening, and it would be Carolyn telling me to congratulate Staci or Brian on the honor roll or one of their latest achievements. She sometimes commented on one of my columns. I always appreciated the insight of a professional with Carolyn's experience.

There were times that I spotted Carolyn and her long time friend Candy moving up the sidewalk from a school board meeting on a frosty winter's night -- Candy walking, Carolyn in her PowerChair.

I asked if they needed a ride a couple of times, but soon I learned the answer was no. They were just enjoying each other's company on the brisk trek back home.

Carolyn will be missed. She was the last non-family link to the journalistic dream of the Peck boys, Bob and Roy, in creating a newspaper distinctive to a unique community. She wrote with elegance and class and reported with diligence, common sense and high ethics. I'm proud to have known her and called her friend.

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