Carolyn S. Wade
April 3, 1935 – September 5, 2020
Carolyn Sandlin Wade died on September 5, 2020. She bravely battled ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) for the last several months. A native of Jasper, Florida, Carolyn attended boarding school in Virginia for many years until she went to the University of Alabama where she met and married the love of her life and husband of 64 years, Robin Adair Wade, Jr. She will be remembered for her passion for contemporary art, engaging personality, her love of travel, and fabulously vibrant clothing.
Carolyn turned empty-nesting into feathering her nest in an artful and distinctly unique manner. After her children left for college, Carolyn studied studio art and art history at UAB. Her love for needle point showcased her artistic talent, but her studies expanded her repertoire to experimental art that engages the whole person, crafting mannequins and extra large abstract needlepoints that could take up to two years to complete. From that genesis evolved a statement home-as-a-canvas to engage all five senses. Carolyn worked on her museum-quality contemporary art-filled house, along with local artists Peter Prinz and the late Anne Arrasmith, for over 40 years . They would incorporate Kiki Smith’s works, her favorite artist, among the eclectic international collection of pieces. The Wades’ museum of a home is the result of a metamorphosis, and because it is an art house, it’s constantly changing. Pieces are always being added but none are ever removed. Not a wall or ceiling is untouched, and each piece has a purpose. Carolyn loved to collect contemporary art with “shock value” that would leave an indelible impression and start a conversation. To her, art was a mirror that made us examine our reactions, good or bad, and she loved observing the response of those visiting her home. Not all of Carolyn’s art is stationary—even her clothes (Comme des Garçons and Issey Miyake) are viewed as art, having been described as “striking” and previously exhibited at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
To say that Carolyn loved to travel is an understatement. She often saw the world with an international group of friends from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she served many years as a member of the International Director’s Council and the Whitney Museum of American Art, serving the last 18 years as a member of the National Committee. She enjoyed her frequent trips to New York reconnecting with friends to view public and private art collections. Additionally, she also enthusiastically supported local arts with her involvement in the Birmingham Museum of Art, where she served on the Museum Advisory Board, Space One Eleven and the Huntsville Museum of Art, again establishing lifelong friendships along the way. Also, Carolyn was an active participant with her husband in educational programs and trips with the Young President’s Organization, World President’s Organization and Chief Executive Organization. And it was from these trips that Carolyn and Robin started the Thomas Art Project at Wade Sand and Gravel where artists have studio space among the buildings of the former Republic Steel site located on the quarry grounds. These artists and their studios were always included on the itinerary for Art Fare Weekends, where Carolyn hosted friends from around the country. Carolyn loved intersecting art with everything from business to pleasure among friends and strangers as a lifestyle and expression of herself. Carolyn was an avid reader of books, the New York Times, fashion and art magazines. A gracious hostess, she loved to entertain “the larger the better” gatherings for museum openings, friends, and family.
Carolyn is preceded in death by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bellingrath Sandlin of Jasper, Florida and her son Walter Bellingrath Sandlin Wade of Birmingham, Alabama.
Carolyn is survived by: her beloved husband Robin Adair Wade Jr. of Birmingham; her two sons, William Watson Wade (Katherine) of New Orleans, Louisiana, daughter in law Vanderbilt Hare Wade of Birmingham and Robin Adair Wade III (Jeanette) of Birmingham; Carolyn’s four grandchildren: (who affectionally called her MeiMei) Caroline Wade Koeller (Robert) of Berlin, Germany, Margaret Wade Cooney (Patrick) of Birmingham, Elizabeth Wade McNulty (William) of Mobile, Alabama and Robin Adair Wade IV and she is survived by three great grandchildren: Wade, Watson and Evelyn Cooney. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren will always remember MeiMei, for her colorful clothes and unique home, where several of the art installations were used as their personal playground.
The family wish to gratefully acknowledge and thank Annie Kelly and Verna Kelly for their unflagging dedication, love and care for many years and particularly during the last several months.
There will be a private family burial, and due to COVID-19, plans for a celebration of Carolyn’s life are indefinite at this time.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Birmingham Museum of Art, Space One Eleven, museum, or charity of your choice.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Carolyn S. Wade
September 10, 2020
The light of our life in Birmingham,dearest Carolyn. I will never forget your great joie de vivre,generosity of spirit and kindness.